Policies are written statements, developed in light of the organisation’s missions and values, which communicate and document your organisation’s plans, instructions, intents, and processes. Policies should guide management, staff and volunteers, clarify your organisation’s values and influence your organisation’s culture.

Ideally, policies should be expressed as formal written documents, so that everyone in the organisation is clear about the organisation’s expectations and limitations. Good governance relies on clear policies which are related to the goals of the organisation, and which are flexible and responsive to external factors and changes. Clearly written policies help the workforce have clear guidelines and a framework for action that helps them do their job, however new they are to the organisation.

It is important that you have a way of determining the appropriateness and success of your policies. Therefore, policies should be closely linked to planning, evaluation and review processes. Your organisation will then be managed through a continuous cycle of setting goals and policies; planning and implementing activities; evaluating the success of those activities; developing modifications or completely new activities; implementing and evaluating changes.

There are many different policies which will relate to your specific organisation. Examples include:

  • Confidentiality
  • Access and equity
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Critical incidents
  • Risk management
  • Grievances
  • Human resources
  • Health and safety

Due to the growth in standards and accreditation processes and the increase in litigation and risk management, policies are now legally required by many funding bodies. In 2007 for instance, implementation of eleven standards became a condition of all service agreements between the Department of Communities and funded organisations. To meet each of the standards, an organisation is required to implement a set of policies and procedures that are related to the eleven standards.

Even if you do not have to comply with a government department’s requirements, it is still best practice to have the right policies to help you manage your organisation. Policies can protect the organisation from legal problems, ensure fair treatment for employees, and establish consistent work standards, rules, and regulations.

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