7 Tips For Policies Training

johnwood, 4/10/2021

Policies training is the process of educating your staff in your organization's policies and procedures. It is usually a part of the onboarding process when staff are first hired, but should also be considered an ongoing initiative throughout the employment of your staff. After all, as your business grows, so should your policies and procedures evolve, and you want your staff in lock-step every step of the way.

There are many aspects to the process of policy training, including:

  1. Having all of your policies and procedures documented
  2. Making sure your policies and procedures are easily accessible
  3. Asking employees to "sign off" on policies, so they can attest to having read and understood them.
  4. Testing staff on their knowledge of policies and procedures through quizzes.
  5. Making sure any updates to policies and procedures are sent to staff to view.
  6. Making sure policies are comprehensible and easy to follow
  7. Making your policies are presented in a way that keeps readers interested.

1. Policies Training Starts with Thorough Documentation

The best place to start your policies training initiative is to ensure that all of your policies and your procedures are fully documented. Getting your policies and procedures 100% documented can be a tall order for some organizations, especially those where staff are more accustomed to keeping their trade secrets locked away in their head. But it's imperative for the health of your organization that you get those procedures extracted and fully documented. Leaving any part of your business critical operations locked away in someone's head, when that employee could leave for another job or get sick, is a huge risk that you must mitigate as soon as possible.

2. Accessibility is Key to Policies Training

Once those policies and procedures are fully documented, you need to assess how accessible they are to your staff. There are many aspects to this:

  • Can your staff access the policies and procedures from their phone or desktop wherever they are working?
  • Can they log in easily?
  • Is it easy to find through a search prompt?
  • Are the procedures laid out in a way that is easy to understand?

A large part of this is going to answered by the choice of software you make. Staff.Wiki of course is a super great choice, given its ability to make your policies and procedures accessible from anywhere!

3. Policy Attestation

Having policies available is one thing, but knowing whether or not your staff actually take the time to read them is another. And even if they should find that time, how do you know for sure that they have actually understood the policies? These are all questions you should ask when considering training your staff in your policies and procedures.

The simplest solution is to utilize something called "policy attestation". This is where a staff member signs off on a particular policy or procedure to say that they have read and understood it. After they do this, the responsibility is on them. If it turns out they violate a policy, then they really have no excuse and you would be far more justified in applying disciplinary action.

4. Learning Management Is Critical to Policies Training

You can also go one step further and utilize testing by creating quizzes. These can be in the form of multiple choice questions, which many learning assistance software would mark automatically. When your staff are forced to take quizzes, it's much harder for them to say they understand something when they do not.

Implementing quizzes is an opportunity to gamify the process of policy training. By having your staff take quizzes, and then providing them a certificate when they have passed, you can encourage a healthy competition among your staff to attain that certification. And sometimes a little bit of workplace competition can make things more fun for your staff.

5. Broadcast Updates

In many organizations policies and procedures can change on a fairly regular basis. Perhaps the basic ones won't change very often, but as regulations change, incidents occur, risks are identified and the company grows, you can be sure that you will need to change something in the list of expectations you have of your staff.

But if your policies and procedures change, how can you be sure that these changes make their way to your staff? You want to make sure they're aware of the changes, otherwise it's almost as good as them not ever having read the policy in the first place. In some cases if your staff are not aware of changes then this can have devastating consequences, either in terms of safety or liability.

So you need to make sure that training is not a one-off thing. It needs to be continual. You need to make sure those updates make their way to staff, and you need to make sure staff read those updates and fully understand them.

6. Policies Training Demands Readable Policies

We touched on the importance of layout in the section on accessibility, but this cannot be stressed enough. If you have long policies, with large paragraphs, no visuals, no sections, small font, and complex sentences - by and large those your staff will be encouraged to skip large section of it. They will likely miss something critical.

There are many ways to help with the readability of policies. A few tips are:

  • Use shorter words with fewer syllables if possible. Don't use a 5 syllable word if a 2 syllable word would have the same meaning.
  • Keep sentences short. If your sentence seems to span a couple of lines, consider ways to break it up.
  • Minimal use of adjectives and adverbs. Yes, they make for colorful writing. But colorful writing is not always easy to read, and requires your brain to do extra work to understand.
  • Reduce use of jargon. In technical writing, including when writing policies and procedures, some use of jargon is going to be unavoidable. But always consider whether that technical term is absolutely necessary in that case, and consider using simpler words if possible.
  • Check the font that you are using to ensure it's legible and easy to read quickly. Certain fonts with lots of "serifs" (little squiggly lines added to letters) can be harder to read quickly, and may impact readability.
  • Break up paragraphs. When reading, we tend to scan through the text looking for structure. A key way to structure text is through the use of paragraphs. Each paragraph tends to be around one particular topic, so if your brain scans it and decides the topic is not relevant or useful, they will go on to the next paragraph hoping it will be a different topic. If you put too many topics into one paragraph, the reader may skip certain content that they actually needed to know. For this reason it's important to break up paragraphs to ensure an appropriate structure and allocation of topics in your document.
  • Use tools like readability.com to test the writing style of your document before publishing or submitting.

Good writing increases the authority of your writing, and increases the likelihood it will get the attention it deserves. Both of these are critical for writing effective policies.

7. Policies Training Demands Enticing Policies

The writing style is one aspect, but another is how enticing or inviting your content is. Sure, your text may be easy to read. But will people be attracted to it in the first place? Writing great policies that you know will be read is almost like creating an advertisement: you need to entice your readers.

This is why it is so critical for you to focus on the quality of presentation. Ensure things like consistent styling to reduce the cognitive load [*] on the reader. Don't overuse colors, and use bold and italics sparingly to make sure that key points are communicated clearly. Another tip is to utilize visuals such as images to put across points that are hard to describe with words, and videos are even more effective.

All of this goes into creating policies that are far more likely to be read by your staff, and that means more staff who are trained more extensively.

What Is the Best way to Manage Policies Training?

Sure, you may think that the next step to put all this useful knowledge to work may be to create a new policy on how to write policies. But there may be an even better way.

If you really want to ensure your staff get the best ongoing training on your organization's policies as possible, then you really need the help of software to assist in managing that continual process. Policies and Procedures Management Software can help significantly with the process of conveying your policies to all your staff, finding new ways to make those policies enticing through different presentation styles, getting your staff to attest to reading the policies and also testing them on their policy knowledge. There are several products that may be able to help with this, but of course we would highly recommend our flagship product Staff.Wiki.

Either way, hopefully you now have a better idea of how to go about training your staff to ensure they truly understand the policies, and with it the vision, of your organization.

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Up Since 5/15/2021 12:47:54 PM