This may surprise you, but good story tellers make the best policy makers.
Why? The best way to write a policy is to treat it like a story. A story engages by leading the reader into a journey, and it makes it easier to remember. Wouldn’t you want your policy to take on these qualities?
Let me give you a framework which will make it easier to write the first draft of your policy.
1st Part – The Setup
Like a good story, we have to give the background as a setup.We have to show why the story matters.
Want a fantastic example of a setup? Watch this setup video from the movie “Up”. It sets everything up in less than 5 minutes. Absolutely fantastic.
Your background should work the same. Short, comprehensive and engaging. Start your policy out with a description of what is happening now and why that matters. Describe the current situation and why the company sees it as an obstacle or opportunity.
- Let’s take this as an example on employees taking extended work breaks:
“It has come to our attention that key personnel have been taking extended lunch breaks.This has hampered the release of goods from the warehouse because the approving personnel are not present.”
- Or this example on Employees applying for salary advances:
“We’ve noticed that the number of employees applying for cash loans have increased over the last quarter. Presumably, this is because tuition time is coming and the employees need to pay for their children’s tuition. Due to the loans coming in at the same time, our company’s cash flow is being affected and not all deserving employees are being given the allotment they need.”
2nd Part – The Solution
Next comes how you propose to resolve the problem. This is the opportunity for you to lay out your battle plan for resolving the dilemma. In the second part, you give the actual steps you want the team to follow.
Coming from our earlier examples:
- Lunch Break
All warehouse personnel are reminded that our lunch break is from 12pm-1pm. Therefore, all personnel are expected to be back at their workstations at exactly 1pm.”
- Tuition Loan
All loan advances for purposes of paying tuition fees should be applied as a Tuition Loan.
An employee may avail of the tuition loan if:
- You are a regular employee;
- The aggregate of your existing loans (if any) do not exceed one month’s salary;
- You have a clean work record, which means that you have no penalties imposed on you for the last 3 months.
- Submit a request letter saying you want to avail of the loan.
- Attach the Tuition Rates from the school which you intend to use the loan for;
- Allot at least 2 weeks for processing to allow management to adjust the cash flow requirements to accommodate your request.
After the submission of your application, the loan committee shall deliberate and give you feedback within 5 working days whether your loan is approved or denied.”
Some pointers for the 2nd Part:
- You should write this as short as possible BUT without sacrificing necessary details.
- Next pointer, a good way to keep you on track is to write it out as bullet points or in numbers if they involve multiple steps. This will remind you to keep your steps separate from each other and therefore makes them easier to follow.
- Also take the opportunity to lay out exceptions to the rule you’re proposing. Supposing loans are available for employees except those with previous loan availments, then state that clearly to avoid misunderstandings with applicants.
3rd Part – the resolution
Finally, we come to resolving our mini story. After you’ve laid out your problem/challenge, you’ve given your proposed solution, we now explain what will happen if they follow or don’t follow the solution you laid out.
In short, the third part is where you lay out the penalty or the benefit the employees can expect.This is where you level expectations.
For example, if they fail to report back to their workstations by 1pm after lunch, that would be treated as if they came in late in the morning. Therefore, the tardiness policy will apply then.
Or, if they submit their tuition fee advances 2 weeks before, then these would be processed and granted if no other circumstances prevent the employee from being given the loan.
There you go. Just follow the 3 step formula and you’ll find that the policy almost writes itself.