Organisational policies: What they are and how to set them up?

Organisational policies provide direction and better management for businesses as they are followed internally by employees. ILLUSTRATION | FOTOSEARCH

I would define organisational policies as a set of rules, regulations, procedures, and processes that govern how it is managed or governed. Organisational policies provide direction and better management for businesses as they are followed internally by employees.

In some cases, as I will highlight later, having organisational policies may be required by some stakeholders such as government and donors. Some clients especially in the global market require their suppliers to have in place policies such as anti-slavery, anti-terrorism and so on.

Organisational policies depend on the type of business. They are largely drafted on a case-by-case basis. Policies are not compulsory and there is no standard type of policy. The important thing to note is that the policies should be suited to your unique business needs. A poorly drafted policy can be a hindrance to your business while a well-drafted one will play a major role in promoting good governance.

Some of the major policies for consideration include human resources, ICT, computer usage, customer care, marketing, finance, and administration. In determining what policy your organisation requires it is important to understand your needs.

There are many ways you can draft policies.

One method entails drafting the policies from scratch. A second method involves hiring a professional to draft the policies for you, having understood your needs. The third way is by the purchase of pre-existing template policies depending on your sector. For example, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) which is the governing body for lawyers, provides a manual for its members to purchase. I recommend hiring a professional to do the drafting on your behalf.

Whichever way you decide to go, it is important to create suitable policies. Policies must align and comply with existing laws. In the event of a conflict between the existing law and a policy, the existing law will prevail. For instance, supposing you draft a human resource policy that contradicts with the Employment Act, then the Employment Act will prevail. Therefore before you draft, you need to read and understand the relevant laws to ensure your policy does not contradict the law.

You also must ensure that your policies do not contradict each other. They must be harmonised. Contradicting policies can be a source of confusion and create inefficiencies in the business.

Policies must be simple and concise. It is always important to have in place a definition of terms to avoid discrepancies as to interpretations.

Policies should not be too long as to wear out the reader. They should be very easy to follow. This is why it is important to hire an expert to help you in drafting.

Policies should be updated frequently as the business environment changes. For example, many businesses were caught flat-footed when Covid-19 forced remote working. Many businesses had no policies allowing for such. Similarly, a lot of businesses were forced to transact business virtually when the pandemic hit. Therefore policies must be frequently investigated and updated to cater to changes in the environment.

For a policy to be effective the staff must be trained on the same. It is important to orient and train new staff members on the organisational policies that your firm has in place. It is also important to consistently train existing staff to ensure they understand and follow the policies in place.

The writer is the founder of C Mputhia Advocates.

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