How to ensure document attestation on your policies 

How to ensure document attestation on your policies

A fundamental pillar of successful policy management is to put measures in place to ensure that policies are acted upon by your employees. Employee attestation on your policies and procedures is a popular way to ensure your policy documents are being read and understood. It’s a relatively simple idea and straightforward process, but executing it successfully can be difficult.

In this article we’re going to look at employee attestation, what it is, why it is important, how to measure it, and how policy management software can help support it.

What is policy attestation?

Attestation for your policies is sometimes known as employee attestation, policy attestation or document attestation. It is a process by which employees confirm that they have read and understood your policies and procedures, and any changes to these policies.

At its simplest, policy attestation asks employees to confirm that they have read and understood a policy by checking a box or even electronically signing a policy. More sophisticated policy attestation solutions like Xoralia also offer additional quizzes and learning options to test to see if the policy has actually been understood by employees. Attestation can then be measured to track policy success for both compliance and business reasons, with reporting on the detail of who has completed the process in order to increase the numbers.

Why do you need policy attestation?

There are several reasons why it is very important to acquire attestation for your policies.

Ensure policies are read and understood

Policies are critical and help ensure employees follow the right rules to stay safe, compliant, efficient and more. Employee attestation is a major way to ensure that policies are actually being read, understood and followed by employees.

Demonstrate compliance

There are many legal and regulatory areas that require compliance. Third-party regulators and related certification bodies, as well as insurers, will expect there to be a mechanism to ensure employees are trained and updated on compliance-related matters. Policy attestation is an excellent way to show external regulators that this is the case and also demonstrate particular policies have been disseminated to the workforce.

Change management

Policy attestation can be an important ingredient in change management efforts, for example in introducing new ways of working, changes to procedures and more, particularly if a change needs to be rolled out quickly and you need to ensure it has reached all sections of your workforce. Again, attestation is an effective way to communicate new policies and changes to policies.

Employee onboarding

The employee onboarding process usually requires new starters to get up to speed quickly with processes and procedures. Employee attestation is a useful component of any employee onboarding process and ensures that nothing gets missed.

Policy management insights

Policy attestation gives you powerful data into how effective your policies are with insights into which policies are more easily understood, whether there are particular issues with understanding a certain policy or a section of it, and how different groups within your organisation are responding to policies.

Valuable trend data allows you to make adjustments and interventions to individual policies and the way they are managed, to improve overall policy effectiveness.

How can you measure policy management effectiveness?

There are various ways to measure policy management effectiveness, much of it being achieved through the employee attestation process. Useful measures both at the organisational and department level include:

  • The proportion of policies being read via attestation confirmation.
  • The proportion of policies being truly understood via additional quiz and learning challenges.
  • The speed to which the attestation process is being completed and understood.
  • Areas of policies that are not being fully understood, for example via responses to individual questions in any policy quiz questions.
  • The proportion of policies being updated and reviewed by policy holders (not related to employee attestation but very useful!).

Challenges of acquiring attestation and how policy management software helps

Acquiring attestation for policies has its challenges. Policy management software is designed to help overcome many of these, doing much of the heavy lifting around the attestation process.

Ticking the box

One key problem with attestation is that it can just end up literally being a box-ticking exercise with employees simply stating they have read and understood a policy, when they have actually done neither. While strictly speaking this may be acceptable from a compliance angle, it actually undermines the effectiveness of your policies. Policy management software like Xoralia can help by adding additional features, including using custom quizzes to actually test employees on the contents of the policy, or integrating a digital sign feature to emphasise the validity of the attestation.

Targeting the right employees

Often employee attestation for some policies is only required to be completed by a section of the workforce, such as a particular role, job family, division or employees working in a particular jurisdiction. But targeting the process to different groups can add a level of logistical complexity that takes additional time and effort. Policy management software like Xoralia makes targeting the process to different groups easy and straightforward, for with example with targeting based on their Active Directory profile.

Reporting on compliance to meet regulatory needs

Regulatory and certification third parties often need evidence to show that compliance has been achieved regarding the reading of certain policies, but also that there is a process in place for future changes. If you are using email and a spreadsheet this is challenging to demonstrate. Policy management software like Xoralia that delivers employee attestation provides more comprehensive and reliable evidence, and demonstrates you have a robust process in place.

Administration of attestation

Anyone who has tried to administer an employee attestation process manually using email and a spreadsheet will know it is very time-consuming, inefficient and frustrating. It is prone to errors and very difficult to do comprehensively. Policy management software makes managing the attestation process much easier, more efficient and far less time-consuming, principally by automating communication with employees and reporting.

Attestation for new employees

New starters are usually required to read multiple documents and policies when they first join an organisation. It can be hard for them to keep on top of everything they need to do, while it is also a lot of effort for policy administrators to remember to manage the process for each new starter.

Policy management software like Xoralia allows you to automate employee attestation for new starters so when they join they automatically have a number of policies they need to confirm they have read. This provides clarity for new starters on what they need to do, while allowing policy owners to “set and forget” so employee attestation is covered as part of the onboarding process.

Attestation for changes in the policy

Policies change regularly and sometimes it is critical that employees understand what has changed both from an operational and compliance standpoint, and often at short notice. However, communication around policy changes is traditionally hard as employees tend to be very busy and already overloaded with messages. The attestation process supports policy changes too to make sure the message gets through.

Win over internal stakeholders

Sometimes internal stakeholders don’t always buy into or give sufficient time to properly manage employee attestation processes for their team, department or part of the business. This might relating to launching employee attestation for policies that they manage, or getting their employees to carry out the process for other policies. When you don’t get the full cooperation of all parts of the business it makes employee attestation much harder to achieve.

Because using policy management software makes the attestation process so much easier for both users and administrator, they are more likely to buy into an overall enterprise-wide approach to attestation.

Attestation features in Xoralia

Xoralia is an advanced policy management software solution that includes a number of key features that support employee attestation.

Easy attestation

The easy attestation feature allows employees to preview and read a policy and then tick a box to confirm that they have read the document. Additionally, a quiz can be set to test the user’s knowledge of the policy to ensure it has been properly understood.

Quiz builder

The quiz builder allows content and policy owners to set their own questions for users about a policy. They can create custom questions, select from a pool of set questions and also set their own pass mark, all from an intuitive interface.

Reporting dashboard

Xoralia’s dashboard provides all the reporting that policy owners and central compliance teams need to track and drive the attestation process. It provides a breakdown of policy readership and attestation status, presenting an overall score of documents read and the average quiz score. It then allows you to break this down for each policy and by salient groups such as department, not only helping to drive compliance but also providing evidence to show to external third parties that employees are reading and understanding a new policy.

Need to support the attestation process? Get in touch!

Document or employee attestation is essential in ensuring there is effective communication and compliance relating to your policies. If you’d like to discuss how policy management software like Xoralia can support attestation then get in touch or even book a free demo.

Book a live demo

Find out more about Xoralia policy management software

During the demo, we'll walk you through Xoralia’s various features and functionality, providing plenty of time for you to ask our experts questions along the way.

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How to keep your workforce safe with policies and procedures

How to keep your workforce safe with policies and procedures

Keeping employees safe is a major focus for organisations. Health & safety is an absolute priority from an ethical, legal, compliance, operational and reputational standpoint. Related topics such as employee wellbeing are also now high up on the corporate agenda. A key pillar for ensuring health & safety is having the right policies and procedures in place so that all employees follow the right steps to prevent and limit any safety incidents.

Most organisations will have safety policies in place, but then struggle to keep them up to date or ensure that they are properly followed. In this article we’re going to discuss health & safety policies and procedures, the contribution they make to workforce safety, how to develop them, and also how to overcome some of the challenges so that policies are effective.

Why does every organisation need safety policies?

Health & safety is critical in the workplace. It is imperative that your organisation has policies that keep employees safe:

  • It is the right thing to do from a moral and ethical standpoint.
  • There are legal requirements around ensuring employees are safe with an employer having a particular duty of care around health & safety.
  • Many industries will also have policies that must be adhered to keep customers and partners safe too.
  • There may be additional regulatory requirements for particular sectors where safety is a clear issue.
  • It ensures organisations can achieve any related certification that allows them to operate.
  • Ensuring safety is critical to support a company’s brand and reputation – an unsafe workplace or perception that customer safety is not guaranteed can have a major impact on an organisation’s reputation.
  • Supporting employee wellbeing supports a good employee experience helping to attract and retain talent, while also positively contributing to increased productivity.
  • Ensuring safety avoids huge potential fines and other penalties, as well as the costs and disruption of legal action.
  • Avoiding incidents minimises disruption to operations which can be significant if there is a safety issue which needs to be checked or monitored.
  • Ensuring safety avoids higher insurance premiums caused by safety issues or lack of health & safety elements in place.

What are some of the top safety policies that need to be in place?

There are a number of common health & safety and wellbeing policies that are important for all organisations. However, some critical safety policies will differ from organisation to organisation and across industry sectors. Top safety policies include:

  • Uniform or personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Operating machinery and equipment
  • Maintenance of machinery and equipment
  • Training and learning relating to health & safety and related processes
  • Drugs & alcohol
  • Wellbeing policy
  • Safeguarding
  • Ergonomics for office workers – both for on-site and at home
  • Safety assessments for equipment
  • Working hours
  • Driving safely
  • Working environment
  • Incident reporting
  • Fire procedures
  • And many more!

Who is responsible for safety policies and procedures?

Different teams are usually responsible for different health & safety policies and procedures. These include:

  • Health & Safety teams or functions
  • Human resources
  • Facilities and real estate
  • Legal and compliance teams
  • Frontline support
  • Operations
  • And more.

Having multiple different policy owners can make it more challenging to ensure all health & safety policies are up to date.

What roles do policies and procedures play?

When it comes to health & safety, written policies that employees can easily find and access are critical. Policies play an important role in health and safety for several different reasons.

Provide absolute clarity on the detail

Many health & safety policies and procedures are very detailed with different paths to follow dependent on multiple circumstances. They tend to be mandatory and have no room for ambiguity. Policies provide absolute clarity on the detail, so everyone across the organisation knows what they need to do to ensure their own safety and the safety of others.

Training and onboarding

Policies are an essential reference point for training staff on safety matters and often play a part in onboarding new employees. Employees may need to get to know essential safety procedures before they can then fully carry out their role.

Essential reference point for incidents or extraordinary situations

For the vast majority of organisations, a health & safety incident will be relatively rare. However, sometimes these do occur or there can be an extraordinary situation – for example a weather event – where there is a heightened risk of an incident taking place. In these cases, employees may not necessarily know what to do and need to refer to a policy.

Satisfying regulators and other third parties

Having effective health & safety policies in place is the expectation of regulators and other relevant third parties such as certification authorities, insurers and even major customers. The relevant polices need to be in place and sometimes you may need demonstrate that this is the case, and even run attestation processes to show that employees have read and understand policies.

How do develop workplace safety policies

There are no hard and fast rules about how to develop health & safety policies but there are some good practices.

Ensure there Is clear ownership and responsibilities

To start with ensure that you have clarity around ownership of each policy and clear responsibilities relating to its creation, approval and making any changes.

Involve all the necessary stakeholders

Ensure that you involve all the business stakeholders who need to be involved in the creation and ongoing review of safety policies. Here a RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) can be a helpful framework to think about which stakeholders to include. It’s also important to include any legal and regulatory compliance experts to make any necessary reviews.

Be consultative and involve employees

Ideally, policy creation should involve employees and incorporate their feedback. This can provide extremely valuable input that can help support the real-world implementation of policies and also support change management.

Ensure the policy is clear and understood

Health & safety policies must be written clearly and understood. Where possible they may also need to be translated. A policy should be written with the audience in mind, and may require additional guidance. Asking employees to review a policy before it is launched can help get suggestions to make it clearer. Running an employee attestation process can also produce insights into making further improvements.

Have change controls and review processes in place

Policies will need to be reviewed and changed, either due to some kind of trigger or event such as a change in the regulatory environment, or as part of a regular review cycle. It’s important to have a clear change control and review process in place.

The challenges of implementing safety policies and how policy management software helps

There are a number of challenges in implementing safety policies. Here, policy management software like Xoralia can make a difference.

Accessing policies and procedures

One of the major problems in policy management is establishing straightforward access to the actual policies so that they are easy to find. Sometimes all employees may have access, but actually policies are scattered across different pages of the intranet. At other times not all employees will have access - for example, frontline employees may not actually be able to reach all the policies they need to refer to.

A policy management solution like Xoralia can help by establishing a central library where all safety policies live and can be easily filtered and searched.

Version control

All too often there are multiple versions of the same policy in circulation, with earlier versions that have been superseded still being referred to. Policy management software helps establish version control with only the latest and up-to-date policy document being displayed. Because employees also know they can always find the latest version in the central policy library, they also don’t save versions on their local drives which leads to there being multiple versions in circulation.

Keeping policies up to date

One major challenge around policy management is ensuring that policy owners keep their individual policies up to date. Policy management software establishes clear ownership and uses automated notifications and workflow features to make it easier for policy owners to ensure their documents are always fully up to date.

Employee trust

Employees don’t always trust that the policies that they have are up to date or the very latest versions. This encourages bad habits such as people emailing policy owners for the latest version. Because policy management software can provide a central library of policies that are all up to date and easy to find, it can restore employee trust in the policies they access.

Employee attestation

Employee attestation is the key process that supports the dissemination of policies. Here, employees confirm they have read and understood policies, and reporting can track success and even provide evidence for compliance reasons. Policy management software will do all the heavy lifting on the employee attestation process and can even include additional features such as quizzes to test that employees have understood a policy.

Making changes and updates

Safety policies will need to be updated at regular intervals. Sometimes it will be necessary to let employees know about the change, but this can be very difficult to achieve successfully. Policy management software can use features such as personalisation, automated reminders and employee attestation to ensure employees are updated and have understood changes.

Onboarding and annual recurring policies

Employees need to know about safety policies and procedures as part of their onboarding. Some will also need to read policies each year as part of a recurring process. Organising both of these takes a huge administrative effort and doing so manually is highly inefficient. A policy management solution like Xoralia can automate much of the onboarding process relating to policies, as well as automate a , a recurring annual policy process.

About Xoralia

Xoralia is a leading policy management software solution that can support more effective management of your health and safety policies. It includes all the features mentioned in this article including a central policy library, employee attestation and more.

If you would like to find out more about Xoralia, why not book a free demo?

Book a live demo

Find out more about Xoralia policy management software

During the demo, we'll walk you through Xoralia’s various features and functionality, providing plenty of time for you to ask our experts questions along the way.

Book a demo

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