Many business owners consider company culture to be fluid and undefined, based on people rather than structure or system. It’s a fair assumption, since the personalities and behaviors of your team members certainly play a major role in shaping your culture.
This being said, the company policies within your employee handbook can actually help you develop culture for your business. In fact, implementing the most forward-thinking and, frankly, awesome company policies will set the foundation for an inspiring company culture.
Here are seven company policies to consider putting into place in 2020:
One leading company policy to consider implementing for your business is a pet-friendly workplace policy. Because cats are difficult to commute with, this often means dog-friendly offices. The benefits of allowing your employees to bring their dogs to work are manifold – for dog owners and their coworkers alike.
Psychologists confirm that having pets in your workplace can improve morale, reduce absenteeism, and foster a healthy work-life balance. But you’ll need to solidify the rules surrounding pets in your office. Establish dog-free spaces and a complaint process to ensure every team member feels comfortable in the office.
Also, you should consider the scope of your ideal version of a company pet policy. Will this apply to full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, and visitors? Are any pets off-limits? Find the right balance of inclusivity and structure for your company’s pet policy.
Outside education stipends
Your employees should always be learning and improving at their roles, and there’s only so much that they can do with in-office resources. This being said, even the most knowledgeable manager will have significant constraints on their time, so educating employees on some skills won’t be feasible on an on-going basis.
Therefore, many companies offer annual stipends for outside courses or conferences. Consider setting up an expense reimbursement policy for outside education for each employee. Make sure you spell out the steps employees need to take to seek approval and submit a reimbursement request. This policy should also include whether they can attend working-hours courses or conferences without dipping into their days off.
Are you thinking about allowing members of your team to work from home, vacation, or a new city? Be sure to set up a remote work policy. Working remotely offers a long list of benefits for employers and employees alike. But establishing rules around remote work by creating a formal company policy for will be critical to success. Include essential remote work policy clauses like setting clear goals, ironing out a schedule, and clarifying which roles are eligible.
To improve company morale, consider establishing a “summer Fridays” policy. Lay the groundwork for employee-sanctioned half-days or full days off for Fridays during the warmers months of the year.
The benefits of summer Fridays aren’t so different from the general benefits of vacation. They combat employee burnout, increase productivity, and make teams generally happier. No wonder the number of companies offering summer Fridays has increased an astounding 43% since 2012.
Volunteer time off
An engaged and inspired team is a productive one. That’s why many top employers offer their employees extra PTO days specifically for volunteering. Creating a volunteer time off policy will allow members of your team to take the time they need to contribute to a cause they believe in. Best of all, they can do so without sacrificing their personal time.
Decide whether or not you want to create boundaries for what kind of volunteer work you’ll allow your employees to engage in without taking days off. Also use your policy to spell out how many paid volunteer days your employees will have access to each year, and whether they’ll roll over should team members decide to save them up.
Mourning in the workplace is uniquely difficult. Trying to be productive after losing a loved one can feel bitter and hopeless. Setting up a bereavement leave policy lets your employees take the time they need after experiencing the death of a relative or friend.
Moreover, if you have a formal bereavement leave policy, your employees feel empowered to take the time they need to recover outside of the office. Mourning is an unfortunate inevitability in your employees’ lives. Make sure you set up cultural infrastructure that allows them the space and peace to recover. They’ll be a greater asset to you in the long-term if they feel respected during the mourning process.
Finally, it’s tempting to avoid less fun company policies – being the “bad cop” isn’t the most appealing part of your job description. However, setting up formalized performance management policies will help employees at all levels know what they need to do to succeed and move up in the company.
Policies surrounding performance management programs are valuable parts of functioning teams, but if they aren’t spelled out, they can feel arbitrary or unfair to employees who are underperforming.
When an employee doesn’t meet the expectations for their role, knowing how to move forward is difficult. Set up protocol around the steps managers need to take to help employees better fulfill their responsibilities.
This company policy helps both managers and their direct reports improve their performance. Moreover, a structured performance management policy in your employee handbook creates uniform expectations among all your employees.
Implementing trailblazing company policies: Next steps
Your own versions of these seven company policies helps make your team run like a well-oiled machine.
As you set out to revamp your employee handbook, take the time to make meaningful changes that make sense for the way your business works. Don’t try to force a trendy company policy into your company culture if it doesn’t fit.
Keep in mind, though, that great company policies aren’t always plug-and-play. If a policy that your team has expressed interest in doesn’t work well with your existing processes, that might be an indication that it’s time to update the processes themselves, such as how your team requests time off, or works from home. Be willing to make changes if it supports positive change within your culture.
About the Author
Randa Kriss is a staff writer at Fundera, a marketplace for small business financial solutions such as business loans. Randa writes extensively on human resources and has also written dozens of reviews on payroll services and eCommerce solutions.