employee refusing folders which someone is handing to her

Why don’t employees follow your procedures?

It can be incredibly frustrating when you set out new procedures for your employees to follow and they just don’t do them. So why aren’t they following them and what can you do about it?

You haven’t made a convincing enough case for them

If you don’t sound like you believe in the process then none of your staff members are going to believe in it either. You need to explain why the procedure is important, what are the benefits of it, who it will affect, and what will happen if the procedure is not followed. By giving your employees these facts they will feel more obliged to follow your new procedures.

They don’t understand them

Have you made them complex or filled them with jargon? You must keep them as simple as you possibly can! If you can’t explain your process to a ten-year-old then it’s probably too complex.

To do this you should keep them as short as possible, use simple words and keep them to the point. Before you publish them, ask employees if they understand the procedure, get them to explain it back to you to see if they have properly understood it. If they haven’t explained it back to you correctly then it’s still not clear enough.

They are not specific enough

If your procedures are too generic then they end up trying to please everyone but resonate with no one. For example, you may write a procedure for disposing of waste products, however, you have not factored in the different layouts in each of your estates. Because of this, certain parts of your procedure aren’t applicable to all buildings, this leaves some employees completely ignoring the procedure altogether.

Before publishing your procedures send them to each estate and ask them to run through it so they can highlight any gaps or missing pieces of information.

They are too long

Employees get intimidated before they have even read your procedure because it is just so long! You need to keep it as to the point as possible.

Look through your procedure and see if it is adding too much information that could be included in a guidebook or a manual. If this is the case cut this text out and replace with a link to the relevant instructions. As a general rule, you should have no more than 10 steps per procedure. Alternatively, if you are really struggling to cut it down you could use a process map as they are an easy and simple way to get more information onto a single page.

Employees can’t find your procedures

You have told employees about your new procedure and written it out. The only problem is that staff cannot find it, if they can’t quickly locate the procedure then chances are they not going to follow it. Make sure you put your procedure online so that it can be instantly accessed anywhere and when you update it, it will be updated everywhere. Oplift offers a digital knowledgebase which organises all of your manuals, handbooks and guides in one place, meaning staff can access your procedures within a few simple taps.

The Employee engagement dashboard on an iPad screen

There are no images

You present your entire procedure with no images or illustrations, this makes it hard to follow especially for new employees who aren’t familiar with your workplace. Use images to highlight how you expect the procedure to be carried out.

They conflict with other demands

Perhaps you have implemented a closing store procedure which states “No customers will be admitted after the doors have been locked.” However, your store managers have told employees that they can let customers in if they look like they are in a state of urgency. This conflict will lead to your procedure being ignored.

To avoid this you should try to find the conflicting piece of information by asking your employees why they avoid the procedure. If this hasn’t highlighted any issues you should ask your managers to thoroughly read the procedure and circle any areas which they think conflict with the rules they currently give to their staff.

Managers aren’t following the procedure

Staff look up to their managers, so if they aren’t following your procedure you haven’t got much chance of the staff following it. You need to get managers on board and really explain the value of the procedure and why it’s so important. Justify it so that they aren’t left wondering why it needs to be there at all!

They forget about them

Employees are too busy carrying out their day to day responsibilities to remember the details of a procedure. To avoid this happening you need to constantly remind them about it.

  • If you use microlearning for your daily training you can add questions about it in there. One of our microlearning features includes gamification, this gives staff three daily questions which they must complete each day. By including your procedure questions in here you embed the knowledge ensuring they never forget it.
  • Use communications such as alerts to quickly send message blasts to employees reminding them to follow the procedure, a simple nudge goes a long way to avoid people forgetting your procedure. If you have Oplift you can send notifications if you don’t then you can send emails, or send messages on slack, don’t give up just keep sending reminders until everyone remembers.
  • Put visual displays of your procedure at every employee touch point. This could be in the staff room in the stockroom or behind the till. If you have an employee app such as Oplift you can keep staff aware of your procedure by highlighting it on a banner. This will show up on the dashboard meaning employees will see the announcement every single day.

They involve too many different people

Does your procedure require employees to communicate and manage information from lots of different people? If this is the case, your employees will avoid following your procedure and opt for an easier method which allows them to get on with the process on their own. If it’s necessary that lots of different people must be involved then perhaps you need to break your procedure down into separate processes with fewer people in each one.


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

The easiest way to ensure regulatory compliance in your business

The easiest way to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation 

The biggest compliance mistakes to avoid

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 25th February 2019