How to Write Effective Policies and Procedures

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Course Description

Do your employees have a place where they can find information on everything from what happens to their job if they get sick or injured to whether it is okay if they post work-related photos on their social media pages?

If not, it is time for you to create a policy and procedure manual for your company. In today's rapidly changing business environment, you need a carefully planned policy and procedure manual more than ever. This important book, which can be both in print and online, helps keep you treat your employees in a fair and consistent manner.

Our lessons will guide you in the process of developing an effective policy and procedure manual that reflects the high standards and goals of your company. You will find helpful information for both the large and small organization and for whether you have an existing manual that needs updating or are starting one from scratch.

An effective policy and procedures manual communicates your company's goals and standards of behavior and clarifies your employees' expectations about the way your business runs. When you have these rules in writing, it makes it easier for everyone -- from your top supervisors on down to your part-time employees.

In addition, a carefully worded and up-to-date manual can protect your company from possible legal action and the possibility of employee fraud.

The good news is that you can create this important document in a step-by-step process. Once you have the basic manual in place, regular reviews and revisions will keep it accurate and in line with your growing company.

Every business should have a document that clearly states how things should be done. This need is true for a large company so that the various departments work together effectively, and it is just as true for a small company so that things can run smoothly when the owner is away from the office.

Does your business have a policy and procedures manual that covers company rules and employee guidelines? If not, it is time to develop one. It is a straightforward process, and once you have a workable template in place, you will be able to make revisions and updates as your company changes and grows.

An effective policy and procedure manual is an essential management tool. As a piece of required reading for all employees, it states business goals and policies and communicates appropriate standards of action and behavior for all employees.

Your manual should include your company best practices, your core business process descriptions, and the specific methods and standards for how work is performed. This manual enables you to simplify employee training, to focus your company for growth, and to enhance your ability to scale.

The manual can be printed and placed in a three-ring binder, placed in a folder on a network share drive, or automated and published online using procedures management software. Or it can be available in each of these formats. What is important is that everyone in your company knows about the manual, reads and understands the manual and knows where to find it when they need it.

Essentially, your policy and procedure manual is really about good communication. Your manual communicates your standards. 

Your employees need to know what you expect of them. Your supervisors need a manual to reference for managing day-to-day business processes. By documenting your standards, you communicate what is important for your company's quality, growth and customer satisfaction.

With a policy and procedure manual in place, your staff will have somewhere to go when the unexpected happens or, in other words, when they wonder "What do I do now?" or "How do I handle this?" Let's take a look at the benefits of having written policies and procedures.

First, the manual helps your company avoid inconsistencies. With a written guidebook to refer to, your team will have clear directions from management on how to handle specific works situations. Clearly defined policies and procedures express the company's desire to make consistent and impartial decisions.

Let's say a new employee is chronically late for work, for example.

When you have an existing policy on tardiness, your manager will not have to make judgment calls on the spot. He or she can refer the employee to the manual. A written policy avoids the uncomfortable situation in which one manager excuses a chronically late employee while another manager fires a chronically late employee. In other words, the manual spells out the consequences for work behavior and takes out any opportunity for ambiguity, which can cause hurt feelings.

When company policies and procedures are in writing, you let employees know exactly what they need to do to remain employed with your company. When employees are required to read the manual, sign a statement that they agree to abide by it, they can be held accountable for their actions.

Another benefit of an effective policy and procedure manual is that it can protect your company from possible legal action or employee fraud. When you pay careful attention to the content of your policy and procedures manual, it can help you defend disciplinary actions and other actions in a variety of business situations.

It is important to have your attorney review your manual to determine if there are any legal issues that need your attention and if you are following federal and state legal requirements as an employer.

Thirdly, a policy and procedures manual can serve as a training tool, since it tells employees how they fit into the overall structure of the company, and it tells them where to go if they have questions or concerns. New workers will use the manual to help them get up and running in a timely manner.

An effective manual describes critical daily tasks that must be accomplished for your business to run safely and efficiently. More than just a list, the manual also should provide details on why things are done the way they are done.

Now, you may be wondering what the differences between policies and procedures are. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two. A policy states what management wants employees to do, and a procedure describes how that task should be done.

 Since, an effective manual contains both policies and procedures, let's look more closely at each of them.

A policy is a guiding principle that sets the direction for an organization. Policies then are the rules and guidelines under which a company, division or department operates. In your manual, you will have policies for the overall company, for specific parts of the company and for individual employees.

Here is an example of a company policy for bill paying:

Accounts Receivable personnel shall ensure that all outstanding customer invoices are paid within 30 days (net 30) and 20 days next quarter (net 20).

And here is an example of an employee policy:

Smoking and drinking are strictly prohibited within the company offices.

Here is an example of an inventory employee policy:

Warehouse personnel must count physical inventory on a weekly basis to ensure the accuracy of the general ledger balance.

Company policies set a standard for your company image. They create a level of uniformity in employee rights and responsibilities. Without them, your employees will have varying personal standards.

Therefore, it is important to consider carefully what kind of image you wish to project as a company when you are developing your new manual. Policies typically reflect that desired image or brand.

Policies typically fall into the following three categories:


Policies create a level of uniformity in employee rights and responsibilities. Without clear direction, employees usually have varying personal standards. A company dress code is an example of a policy.

Without a dress code, some of your employees might wear a suit to work, while others might wear jeans and t-shirts. If you would like your employees to convey a consistent image to your customers or clients, a dress code takes the guesswork out of the situation.

Best Practices

A best practice is a technique or method that has shown consistently positive results in your company. These policies direct employees to act in line with what benefits a specific department and/or the entire organization. Many sales organizations have best practices policies for communication with clients and customers, for example.


Many organizations have policies that address employee and customer safety as well as legal and ethical safety for the company. These policies are particularly important in warehouses, factories or even restaurants where dangerous equipment is used or in any area of a business where injury is a concern.

It is possible to go overboard with policies. Excessive rules and regulations can have a negative effect on morale. Be sure that your policies do not restrict creative thinking or that they do not go against your established or desired corporate culture.

Procedures, on the other hand, are the means for putting policies into action. Procedures offer specific instructions and necessary to perform a task.

Procedures describe who does the task, what steps must be performed, when those steps should be performed, as well as how the procedure should be performed. Procedures also tell the important "why" something is done at your company. These "whys" are important ways of distinguishing your brand and of reflecting your particular mission.

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    Course Lessons

    Average Lesson Rating:
    4.7 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
    "Extraordinarily Helpful"
    (820 votes)

    Lesson 1: Introduction to Writing Effective Policy and Procedure Manuals

    An effective policy and procedure manual is an essential management tool. As a piece of required reading for all employees, it states business goals and policies, and communicates appropriate standards of action and behavior for all employees. 31 Total Points
    • Lesson 1 Video
    • Take Survey: Reasons for Taking this Course
    • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
    • Complete: Effective Policy Example - Lesson 1 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 1

    Lesson 2: How to Begin Your Policy and Procedure Manual

    A well-written policy and procedure manual can improve your company by establishing clear guidelines, setting goals, and communicating organizational knowledge. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 2 Video
    • Review 3 Articles: Answer 4 Questions to Get a Great Mission Statement; How to Organize Your Policies and Procedures Manual; How to Write a Mission Statement with Examples
    • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 2

    Lesson 3: Working on Policies and Procedures as a Team

    Writing your company's policy and procedure manual can be a learning experience for all of you. Make it a team effort by inviting cooperative work on the project. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 3 Video
    • Review Article: 10 Tips for Better Teamwork
    • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 3

    Lesson 4: Legal Considerations for Your Policy and Procedure Manual

    Now that you have some of the basic content in mind for your policy and procedure manual, it is time to think about legal requirements. 29 Total Points
    • Lesson 4 Video
    • Review 2 Articles: Free Samples of Policies and Procedures; What to Include In an Employee Handbook
    • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 4

    Lesson 5: Digging Deeper - Other Legal Considerations for Your Manual

    Clearly defined policies and procedures help your company run more efficiently, and help you make fair decisions. 29 Total Points
    • Lesson 5 Video
    • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 5

    Lesson 6 Secrets to Creating Effective Policy and Procedures

    Remember that a written policy creates a rule or standard to be followed consistently. As such, it can reduce management's flexibility to treat each situation as unique. 9 Total Points
    • Lesson 6 Video
    • Complete: Exam 6

    Lesson 7: Doing the Writing for an Effective Policy and Procedure Manual

    Writing an effective policy and procedure manual comes down to brevity and clarity. Aim to develop a friendly, to-the-point style. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 7 Video
    • Review 2 Articles: AP STYLEBOOK; The Chicago Manual of Style Online
    • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 7

    Lesson 8: Hooking Your Reader

    Remember that a policy establishes clear rules of what will be done, or not be done, in an organization. Policies range from broad philosophies, to specific rules. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 8 Video
    • Review 2 Articles: How to Write a Standard Operating Procedure; Writing a Procedure- Making Sure Things are Done Without Mistakes and Omissions
    • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 8

    Lesson 9: Making Your Manual Look Good

    In this lesson, we will consider the appearance of your manual. It is critical that you pay attention to how the manual looks to the reader, because its appearance reflects the professionalism of your company. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 9 Video
    • Review 2 Articles: MODEL EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK FOR SMALL BUSINESS; Sample Employee Handbook to Download
    • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 9

    Lesson 10: The Review Process

    Although the actual writing of a policy and procedure manual is best left in the hands of one person for consistency�s sake, top members of your organization should review your work. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 10 Video
    • Review Article: How to Handle Negative Feedback
    • Complete: Handling Criticism - Lesson 10 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 10

    Lesson 11 Distributing the New Manual

    Most organizations choose to have both a printed version of the manual, as well as an electronic version. 30 Total Points
    • Lesson 11 Video
    • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
    • Complete: Exam 11

    Lesson 12: Revising and Updating Your Policy and Procedure Manual

    Changes in employment laws and regulations, and in the size and scope of your company and staff, may make your current policies obsolete. 69 Total Points
    • Lesson 12 Video
    • Review 9 Articles: Example 1; Example 2; Example 3; Example 4; Example 5; Example 6; Example 7; Example 8; Example 9
    • Take Poll: Course Completion Poll: Your Thoughts
    • Take Survey: Course Comments
    • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
    • Complete: Exam 12
    • Complete: The Final Exam
    Total Course Points

    Learning Outcomes

    By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
    • Describe what writing effective policy and procedure manuals is.
    • Describe how to begin your policy and procedure manual.
    • Summarize legal considerations for your policy and procedure manual.
    • Summarize secrets to creating effective policy and procedures.
    • Describe the writing process for an effective policy and procedure manual.
    • Describe methods for hooking your reader.
    • Identify the review process.
    • Describe distributing the new manual.
    • Describe revising and updating your policy and procedure manual, and
    • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

    Additional Course Information

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    Course Title: How to Write Effective Policies and Procedures
    Course Number: 9770566
    Course Requirements: View Course Requirements
    Lessons Rating: 4.7 / 5 Stars (820 votes)
    Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
    Course Type: How To (Self-Paced, Online Class)
    CEU Value: 1.1 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
    CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
    Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
    Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
    Instructor: Dana Kristan
    Syllabus: View Syllabus
    Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
    Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with Online CEU Certification: $75.00

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