Compliance Conversations: How Best to Communicate QHSE Policies

Posted by Craig Thornton

This is part of a series of compliance conversations about how you best manage your QHSE management systems and their associated processes.

In this video QHSE Consultants from around the world talk about the best ways to communicate your policy.

Check out the video here:

 

Video Transcription

What is a Good Example of How to Communicate the Policy

 

Sean, Kaizen, New Zealand

My favourite one is part of the induction or even other means of communication across the company, company memos, and sending it as an announcement.

It’s to really break down the policy into three or four meaningful sentences for people to actually understand what that policy is all about.

When you send them a full page of policy with different commitments, often people don't really read through the entire page or they miss out on what the main message is in that policy.

Essentially, if it's a drug and alcohol policy, send the policy but also the bullet points that the main point of this policy is we've got zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol.

For health and safety, you're responsible for giving yourself and others safe, we're committed to improving our safety performance, etc.

Basically, just three or four bullet points on what this policy means or how this policy applies to different employees across the organisation and communicated that way.

Another means of communicating with a wider group, such as all other interested parties, would be to put it on your website.

At least have a link ‘if you would like to see our policy, submit this request’, have it as part of your contracts.

These are some of the main means of communicating your policies,

 

Andrew, IRM Systems, Australia

You can probably see where my focus would be already.

Personally, I think verbally, whether that's via an audio or video message, if we're a bigger company it comes from the top; this is why it's important, this is what we must deliver

It’s powerful, much better than just a policy that is stuck on a wall somewhere, and no one really looks at.

If we're at that smaller company, let's take that opportunity. Let's go to our toolbox talk or our town hall meeting or staff meeting, whatever it is, articulating in plain English:

  • What's this about?
  • What are we aiming for?
  • This is where we want to get to.

That vision that you should be articulating through the pulse, particularly if you want to get any value out of it.

In all honesty, as a consultant, I do see organisations looking from the perspective ‘we've got to comply with the standard, so let's just regurgitate what's in them.’

It’s a major missed opportunity.

If you want to get value and improvement out of your system, let's articulate that, in our policy, which is really our vision for what we're trying to achieve.

I made the statement before; it sends an important message to your staff. If they see the CEO verbally articulating, what we're trying to achieve and why it's important, it obviously will have a lot more influence and send a much stronger message than just something stuck on a wall that people don't look at.

 

Laurie, Total Management and Training, Australia

Communication of a policy to everybody in the organisation is important.

It must be done when somebody joins the organisation, to reinforce what our policy is in relation to quality management and safety.

It furthers needs to be continually reinforced whenever you're making decisions.

It should be reinforced – does this meet up with the policy that we have for the organisation?

And there'll be probably training for people in:

  • What the policy means,
  • What the objectives are, and
  • How that's going to be achieved within our organisation.

It's something that's going to be a verbal type training, not an online sort of thing.

It's something where management should actually be discussing with the senior management and then senior management can discuss that commitment and the policy with workers in their work area.

 

Ben, Total Management and Training, Australia

I'll just add to what Laurie said with the communication side. I also think that you communicate through your actions.

If you are one of those top management individuals, and let's say there is an opportunity for you to take onboard client feedback, or even employee feedback that's come through, if you ignore or don't take on board that feedback, you are basically communicating that the policy statement that you have put forward, that you're going to continually improve, isn't actually what you intend to do.

I believe that actions also speak very clearly with these policies to show that you are going to follow them if your actions reflect them.

It's another good way to do what you say you're going to do.

 
John, Many Caps, New Zealand

Let's start with what’s a terrible way of communicating policy?

Which is print it out, stick it in a frame and sticking it on a wall. That's not communicating it that framing it.

Communicating is when you get in front of your team.

  • At a town hall meeting, explain to them what it means.
  • Have small team meetings
  • Have one to ones,
  • Anytime you're talking about someone's performance review, you should be talking about policy
  • Anytime you're looking to drive some improvement, talk about policy
  • Anytime you’re passing someone in a corridor or you’re having a cup of tea with them. Talk about the policy.

Think about yourself as a chief reminding officer and your job is talking about that policy and the context of that policy in the business and how it affects people any chance you get.

 

Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics, Australia

Of course, like everything, there are lots of different ways that we can communicate different standards and policies. I’ve seen companies do it all sorts of ways, it might be written down policies, sticking it up on the wall, that sort of thing.

I think one of the best ones that I've seen over the years is video, it’s so much easier to make video these days, we're doing it right now.

It was a video where the GM / CEO, got up and talked about the quality policy, talked about how important was to the company, and it came from the heart. It was something that actually mattered. Too often, I think we see policies that are just written down to satisfy a little tick in your auditing.

But this actual one said:

  • This is what we want to get to,
  • this is how we're going to get there.

And the rest of the company's quality management system flows much better after that.

That was a good example of how well I’ve seen it well communicated.

 

Nicholas, SRM, South Africa

Well, the best thing that we found for communicating your quality policy has been during visitor or new employee inductions or orientations, which can be done when a person first joins and can be redone periodically if the person has been absent for a while, or on an annual basis.

We found that inductions or orientations are the best tools for communicating your policy.

 

Takeaways
  1. Make communicating your policy part of the induction process
  2. Talk about policies in your 
    • Toolbox meetings
    • Townhall meetings
    • Staff meetings
  3. Reflect your policies in your actions - act on feedback from clients or employees
  4. Compliance Conversations: How do you Determine if a Policy is Working and Effective?
  5. Compliance Conversations: How do you Determine if a Policy is Understood?

Tags: Quality Management, Management System, ISO, Compliance, Risk Management, Customer Satisfaction, QMS, integrated qhse manual, ISO45001, Continuous improvement