How to ensure document attestation on your policies in Sharepoint

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.

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