10 Essential Workplace Policies (And How to Write Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 17 April 2022

Workplace policies ensure that both employees and employers know exactly their expectations of each other. Policies help in shaping the behaviour and performance standards of any employee who joins the organisation. Having policies in place protects the organisation and ensures employees are clear about what's expected of them. In this article, we explain what workplace policies are, review why they're important, list 10 policies and provide steps to help you develop them.

What are workplace policies?

Workplace policies are a set of general rules that show an organisation's plan for carrying out its daily activities. Policies also communicate the connection between an organisation's common values and daily operations. They can guide employers on how to handle issues of safety, accountability of employees' health and their relations with customers. Also, policies outline the rights of employees and the organisation's expectations of employees. Further, policies outline the consequences employees may face if they behave contrary to them.

Why are company policies important?

The formulation of workplace policies ensures an organisation runs effectively and efficiently. Policies can also improve the productivity of employees in the organisation, since they're aware of its expectations of them. Workplace policies are also important because they:

  • provide an outline of how employees should approach their work and the procedures to be followed

  • save time when handling conflict within the organisation and human resource issues that may arise

  • improve the image of an organisation by ensuring it complies with relevant government regulations

  • show that the business is stable and professional, leading to stronger business relationships and a good public reputation.

  • keep the management accountable to their employees

  • ensure that employees receive fair treatment and compensation for their duties

10 essential company policies

The following are 10 workplace policies that an organisation can implement:

1. Equal opportunity policy

Across the world, organisations offer employment opportunities to people equally without favour to anyone in the recruitment process. This policy protects those from minority groups such as gender, race, disability, religion and family status. The policy ensures that the organisation gives equal opportunities to everyone looking for employment opportunities. These policies ensure organisations select employees based on the knowledge, skills and experience they possess for that specific job.

2. Workplace health and safety policy

This policy covers an organisation's obligation to ensure that the employees have a safe and healthy working environment. It outlines the measures employees may take to ensure they are safe as they carry out their duties. Policies may also outline the health cover that an employer offers to their employees. SafeWork Australia develops policy relating to WHS and workers' compensation, and the regulation and enforcement of WHS laws happens at federal and state level.

3. Employee code of conduct policy

A code of conduct assists employees in understanding the organisation's regulations and expectations. The policy also guides them on how to resolve issues of sexual harassment and where to report them in the workplace. Additionally, a code of conduct may offer guidelines on matters such as receiving gifts from customers, wearing acceptable attire at work and using a phone and social media during working hours. It acts as a reference for employees when they encounter challenges within the workplace.

Related: 8 Code of Conduct Examples: A Workplace Guide

4. Employee disciplinary action and termination policy

Organisations typically state clearly their expectations of performance and behaviour in the employee's handbook before they hold the employees accountable for their behaviour. This policy can outline the disciplinary action in case an employee chooses not to comply with rules and regulations. The company may also state the policy in an employee contract and handbook for better reference.

Additionally, this type of policy gives proper procedure to be followed in the case when a manager is considering terminating someone's employment. There may be a proper investigation of an employee's performance before reaching a determination to end a contract. The policy may also define that one party has to brief the other about the reason for their termination and provides a notice period that both parties may give when they wish to end the contract.

5. Employee complaint policies

Employees can file concerns that relate to the workplace by using complaint boxes. This policy offers solutions on how to resolve different complaints when they arise. It can show that the organisation cares about every employee's concerns. The policy also ensures that the organisation upholds professionalism in resolving conflicts between all parties involved.

6. Recruitment policy

Recruitment policies outline proper guidelines on how to hire new people for an organisation. It gives a detailed outline of the processes that the organisation may follow in recruitment. This policy ensures that the entire hiring exercise is fair and gives everyone an opportunity to showcase their skills to the recruitment team.

Related: Recruitment Process Steps: What Is Involved?

7. Internet and email policy

This policy outlines how employees may use the organisation's internet and their official email account. Proper usage of the internet ensures employees use resources for their intended purpose. The policy aims to reduce risks that may arise from accessing prohibited sites or opening suspicious links in emails that may allow for cyber attacks. There may be restrictions on web browsing, downloads, social media usage, security on information shared online and internet access within the workplace.

8. Drug and alcohol policy

This policy covers rules regarding the use of substances within or outside the organisation. It may list consequences an employee could encounter if the management finds them using substances within the organisation. It also provides the process of drug testing periodically within the company. The policy may also ensure the organisation trains its staff to make informed decisions related to substances, which can improve their health and productivity.

9. Compensation and benefit policy

To attract qualified, dedicated candidates, it's often necessary to offer attractive compensation and benefits. This can encourage current employees to continue working for the organisation for a long period. This policy ensures that compensation matches current salary expectations, such as what other organisations are offering for the same position. It also helps the organisation make sure compensation aligns with its budget.

10. Employee face mask policies

Some organisations require employees to wear face masks. This can help to ensure the health and safety of all employees by reducing the spread of infection. This policy typically outlines the requirements for when it's necessary for employees to wear masks in the workplace, such as in crowded areas. The policy can also require an organisation to provide face masks to its employees.

How to write company policies

Follow these steps to write policies for your organisation:

1. Identify the primary goals

Before you write your policies, clarify the goals you plan to achieve with each one by evaluating the objectives of your organisation. Put into consideration how employees' roles and all departments contribute to achieving these goals. You may come up with goals using the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based (SMART) framework. You can accomplish this by collaborating with your co-workers to develop reasonable and effective policies.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

2. Brainstorm processes

You may create a list of all the processes, including the activities that require policies. These processes vary depending on the context and industry in which you work. Consider the organisation's challenges and the industry's recommended practices for achieving tasks. You may also outline some of the potential challenges members of the team may face and brainstorm the solutions for them.

3. Define the format of policies

To ensure your policies are easy to read, consider how you format them. Try using a consistent font and style when writing your document. You can also use the standard formatting style for the organisation at which you work, if applicable. Additionally, you can consider the organisation's expectations and the industry's best practices while formatting the policies.

4. Write your policies

Using the format you chose for your policies, write a draft of them and then review them. You may work with your team to identify the most effective language for every policy. You can also delegate policy development to a specific team or employee. Remember to follow the organisation's rules for policy development, if any.

5. Clarify the logistics

In the policy development process, consider any regulatory or legal guidelines in place. For example, governments and other organisations often create laws to regulate procedures and policies, such as oversight and licensing. To ensure the organisation maintains legal compliance, it's helpful to research the current laws related to the policies you've written.

6. Proofread the written drafts

Be sure to revise your policy drafts by proofreading. You may ask your co-workers to read them too, which can help you identify and correct errors. You can also invite your managers to review the policies and approve content before you publish them.

7. Publish the policies

You can now publish your policies and distribute them among your colleagues. Consider publishing them in the employee handbook. You can also share them via your organisation email for employees to review.