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Avoiding Common Pitfalls: Don’t mix up Policies and Procedures (How tos)

 
 
We frequently see the same common errors companies make when writing policies and procedures. Mixing up policies and procedures information all in the same document is one of the  biggest mistakes that can really keep your policies and procedures from getting read and used.
 
TIP: For best results, keep policy information separate from the how tos so you focus on the specific information employees are looking for.
 
Not having a clear understanding of the difference between a policy and procedure is where most people get into trouble. Here’s a simple definition that can help.
  • policy is a guideline or statement of position with respect to a given topic.
  • procedure is a set of steps or instructions for completing a task
Your Holiday Policy is a good example. The policy itself contains the list of approved holidays and the guidelines managers use for setting schedules and calculating compensation and disciplinary actions under the policy.
 
Related procedures to this policy are all the “how tos” that cover such things as the steps required for arranging floating holidays and related vacation time around holidays, the steps for calculating pay for workers required to report on holidays, the steps for requesting compensating time off, etc.
 
When policy and procedure information is all mixed up in a single document, employees have a hard time finding what they need–and so they guess or ask a co-worker. Your policy and procedure information should be covered in separate documents that are linked together for easy reference. That way employees can more rapidly find and understand the policy, then find the specific task steps they need to carry out the policy.
 
We’ll be covering a series of writing Tips&Techniques in future posts.