For centuries, organizations have been extremely slow to adopt new or revised policies related to new processes, controversial practices, increased technologies and a host of other modern issues that seem to spring up more and more every day in the routine workplace operations. To me, there’s only one thing worse than not having effective policies in place to address common employee issues…and that is having policies that you fail to follow and/or enforce. For auditing purposes, it’s easier respond to a finding that says “no policy is in place” than it is to deal with the consequences of violating your own written words in what you say you will do.
There is a new, more competitive global market out there that is constantly evolving; and if we, as organizations, fail to modify or develop new policies to help monitor and promote specific workplace behaviors then your business could quickly be left in the dust by your competitors. So, how can you stay ahead of the curve? You must anticipate more and more changes will be required of your current policies as societal issues will force closer scrutiny of how organizations operate…and trust me, if you are lacking in any certain areas, then eventually you will be called out – either by headquarters, your own workforce, local government officials and/or the general public.
Therefore, if you haven’t already started considering policies to address the ‘new normal’ in conducting business, then you may want to start looking at the following areas now before even they become obsolete and are replaced by more advanced and complexed issues:
- Digital Communication – If your business doesn’t already have a policy dealing with social media, then you are WAY behind the competition. However, the social media trend is already here and happening right now. What you need to begin to consider for the future is how you plan to police all forms of ‘digital communication’ from the organizational stand-point. You need to think futuristic – because in the technology world, those futuristic ideas will pop up tomorrow. Examples are Google Glass, telepresence robots, avatar technology, etc.
- Cyber Security – Closely aligned with the rise of digital communications comes the rise of cyber crimes and cyber war. How is your organization protected? Your organization’s knowledge and information is a source of competitive advantage that will become increasingly difficult to protect as we see cyber attacks on information systems. Expect to see upward trends in litigation surrounding cyber security and a push for increased government control. Therefore, any policies you develop related to cyber security should be thoroughly researched and detailed to withstand any legal arguments.
- Virtual Employees – With technological advancements in communication and connectivity you will see a significant rise in the use of virtual employees – those employees that work from home or some other location. We’ve seen many businesses experiment and implement tele-commuting practices; however, I expect to see that trend develop to a whole new level as demand for more productive employees increase in ways that can provide greater cost-savings to the organization. Being prepared to deal with such employment issues is critical to any organization that wants to remain in front of its competition.
- Interactive Technology – Welcome to the world of FaceTime, Skype, video messaging and a host of other advanced interactive programs that allow you and your employees to speak face-to-face with others all over the globe. Interactive programs such as these are projected to increase significantly over the next 5-10 years. There’s already talk about a new and interactive LED-laden beer bottle – of all things! So, it makes sense to get a handle on it now and begin to let employees know how you plan to utilize it to better the mission of the organization and what the consequences will be if its availability and usage is abused. This tool is very closely aligned with digital communications; however, you may want to consider a separate policy that focuses on specific video technology uses – especially if your employees will be on a video channel with customers (or talking to a beer bottle).
Of course, these ideas are only a small fragment of what you can expect to see in the future. As new and innovative processes are born, we all have to adapt – whether we want to or not. That’s the name of the game…and the only way to remain competitive in this ever-changing world we live in. So, consider other areas in the organization that may possibly need a policy revamp…such as, financial systems (because banking as we know it today will be obsolete soon), purchasing and shipping systems (because we will trend toward a more environmentally conscious society), employee benefits and eligibility issues (because definitions to ‘family’, ‘dependents’, etc. are already changing every day) and there’s a host of other issues. So, begin to think ahead and get your team together to explore ways your business can be prepared for when the future does arrive.