Covid-19: Developing policies can ease your business into the "new normal"
29 May 2020  | Relebogile Mogotsi | Views: 598
The COVID-19 pandemic and by extension the national lockdown has upset normalcy, forcing companies to adapt to what is now termed as the “New Normal”. This adaptation brings with it the necessity to review and revisit workplace cultures, processes and. arguably. most importantly the workplace policies. This blog aims to provide a guideline for organisations who wish to update their internal policies in response to the pandemic. 

Before we get into the guidelines when developing a policy, it is important to clarify what a policy is. A policy may be defined as a guideline developed by the management of an organisation, which gives effect to the decisions taken by management and provides a framework within which the daily operations of the organisation must take place. An organisation with clear and unambiguous policies, as such defines its own culture. 

The first step in developing internal policies is identifying the need for the policy. To do so, a company should assess its activities and responsibilities, and determine how a policy may maximize productivity and combat certain challenges. The needs of an organisation may change in response to a change in circumstances, or in anticipation thereof. The circumstances considered by an organisation when developing a policy, may either be an internal situation which the management of a company has identified, or an external factor such as a global pandemic.

The second step in developing internal policies is to delegate the responsibility of the development and finalization of the policy to a responsible individual. This individual may or may not be within the organisation, however a mandate must be expressly provided to relevant person. The responsible individual must be given clearly defined targets and timelines to avoid any redundancies or delays in the policy drafting process.

The third step is to gather as much information on the particular aspect which the policy is intended to govern as possible. This step is fundamental in ensuring that the policy drafted is not outdated or outlawed by any prevailing legislation. For this, an organisation must identify the relevant laws applicable to the policy and ensure that the policy complies with those laws. Because legislation and regulations are often updated, an organisation must ensure that it always relies on updated legislative documents when drafting a policy.

The fourth step in this process is to draft the policy. This step must be applied carefully to ensure that that the wording of the policy not only complies with the relevant legislation identified in step 3, but that the policy is also relevant for the purpose it is meant to regulate. The wording of the policy must be as clear and as unambiguous as reasonably possible, without being filled with words or expressions specific to only a particular sector or profession. This is to ensure that the policy remains accessible to different people, notwithstanding whether such a person operates in a particular field.

The fifth step is to consult and gather input from the relevant stakeholders. Depending on the nature of the policy a relevant stakeholder may vary from the employees of an organisation, to an organisation’s clients or customers. Granting persons affected by the policy an opportunity to consider and discuss the potential implications of the policy will ensure that the policy has more upon its ultimate enforcement. It will also ensure that the policy does not unnecessarily deviate from established customs of the organisation, which only such stakeholders may be aware of. 

The sixth step is to finalise and approve the policy. This step may only be taken when the organisation is comfortable that it has exhausted the preceding five steps. Upon confirmation of the above the policy may be approved by the management of an organisation.

The seventh step is the implementation of the policy. For a successful implementation of the policy, it must be communicated to the individuals expected to comply with its provisions. This step may require the organisation to train the relevant stakeholders in the behaviour expected by the policy and the consequences of non-compliance with the policy.

The eighth step is to monitor and review the policy. This step should be a recurring step, implemented regularly to ensure that the policy does not fall into disuse or become irrelevant to the organisation. This step entails assessing the relevance of the policy to its stakeholders, assessing how effective the policy has been applied and assessing whether the policy is still compliant with the prevailing legislative prescripts. 

It must be noted that the steps highlighted above only serve as guidelines and as such are not peremptory. If you are interested in developing a policy for your organisation to comply and stand firm during the Covid-19 pandemic, you are encouraged to contact our offices for further assistance therein.

Adjust to the ‘New Normal” by revisiting and revising your organisations' policies to ensure relevance and legal compliance!