Four tips to create a standard operating procedures checklist for your company

Group of young employees smiling at meeting table

A detailed standard operating procedure checklist helps your product or service meet your high standards and ensures that your employees know the work rules. So, how do you ensure compliance with policies and procedures? Read on for details and creative employee handbook ideas to help you create a strong set of standard operating procedures that are straightforward and easily accessible for your employees.

1. Start with clear expectations

Set clear expectations about how you expect employees to follow your company’s policies. First, they need to understand why your company follows the procedures it does. Avoid fluff—one line or a short paragraph is sufficient.

Next, create a list of procedures that can be easily replicated by both new and veteran employees. Use bullet points to make them easy to digest. Follow these tips:

  • Make your procedures crystal clear
  • Explain how and why the procedures contribute to the overall success of the company
  • Communicate often and carve out time to address any questions or concerns
  • Lead by example

When you share relevant information in the workplace, your employees realize the vital role they play in keeping the company running. Even something simple—like proper handwashing or food storage techniques in the food service industry—can help employees realize the impact they have on the overall success of the business. 

2. Get creative with how you present your information

We get it—training employees on your company’s policies isn’t the most exciting task. How can workplace information be distributed to employees in a creative and easy-to-understand way? Our online design tool can help you create an informative and interesting employee manual. For example:

  • Use bold colors and graphics in your printed company manual. Playful images and snappy blurbs help make facts easier to remember.
  • Use a conversational tone. We’re all human, and you want your handbook to reflect that.
  • Incorporate something unexpected. For example, a comic strip or short story will keep the reader’s interest much more than a text-heavy document.
  • For specifics like operating a particular machine or break room policies, print instructions and ground rules onto a poster, branded with your company logo.

3. Make trainings manageable and fun

Don’t think of compliance training as a one-time onboarding task—the office policies and procedures manual should be reviewed regularly. Once a month, cover one section of your standard operations in a quick, 20-minute session. Leave time for questions and be open to feedback—even if you can’t change your policies on the spot, employee participation makes them feel involved and keeps fresh eyes on your procedures.

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Additionally, take the time during each session to acknowledge employees for jobs well done. Give managers the opportunity to highlight employees who consistently adhere to company procedures and call out anyone who offered an idea or amendment that saves time or improves the quality of your service.

Once a quarter, present awards to high-performing employees to boost morale. Even small rewards—like a catered lunch or company outing—can go a long way in encouraging employees to uphold your company’s policies and procedures.

4. Hold your employees accountable

Adhering to your company’s standard operating procedures is critical for success, and all employees must be held to the highest levels of accountability. Try these ideas:

  • Require each employee to keep a checklist of important tasks and initial when each one is complete.
  • Regularly check-in or make in-person visits to ensure all policies and procedures are in place.
  • Consistently enforce all rules. Rules and expectations are not negotiable, but only enforcing them from time to time can make employees complacent.
  • Follow up on expectations. If an employee receives a warning, set a follow-up meeting in your calendar to make sure they’re on track.
  • Lead by example. Expecting employees to follow specific rules but not doing so yourself is confusing and frustrating.

The right set of policies and procedures will have a positive impact on your business. Conduct a thorough review every few years to update any outdated information or procedures. Ask for employee input—even if your policies remain the same, the feedback can be invaluable to understanding your company culture and morale.   

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