Best Practices for Employee Communication and Engagement in Policy Compliance

January 4, 2022 |

Updated January 4, 2022

3 minutes

Simply communicating new policies and procedures is not enough; companies must also be able to measure adherence.

It was one of the many head-spinning aspects of life in the rental housing industry during the early days of the pandemic: The need to continually update policies and procedures because of health concerns and remote work.

And while policy changes may not be happening at the same lightning-fast pace as they were in March 2020, they continue to occur regularly. According to panelists on the “Emerging Issues: Best Practices for Employee Communication & Engagement in Policy Compliance” session at Apartmentalize 2021, the swiftness of these updates can leave associates feeling overwhelmed and at risk of not following important new procedures that are designed to protect them and residents.

"In the early days of the pandemic, some companies reported that they were seeing 39 policy procedure changes just in one week," said Daniel Cunningham, CEO of Leonardo247. "Thankfully we're not quite there anymore. However, one of the things that really came to the forefront is the importance of communicating policies and procedures out into the field and making sure those procedures are received, acknowledged and adhered to."

Making sure that, in a big-picture sense, employees are engaged with their jobs is important to policy adherence, panelists noted, as satisfied associates are more likely to follow procedures and stay on top of updates.

Debbie Phillips, President of The Quadrillion, explained that research she conducted for her Ph.D. dissertation pinpointed three significant drivers of employee engagement and satisfaction.

"Number one is, 'I trust my supervisor,'" Phillips said. "The second one was, 'I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.' That's when associates are playing in their 'genius zone,' when their strengths are matched to the job. And the third one was, 'I've had the opportunity to learn and to grow in my job.'"

It's also impossible to overstate the importance of having software to track employee adherence to policies and procedures, the panelists said.

"In the past, the only indicator you've had to know if you've got a problem in communicating policies and procedures is if you have a problem," Cunningham said. "You have somebody who complains, you have a piece of equipment that breaks down or unfortunately you get sued. Those are lagging indicators that you have unmitigated risks at your properties and that you probably have some level of non-adherence to policies and procedures.

"There's now software that's doing a better job at helping you transfer policies and procedures into action," Cunningham added. "This kind of software has tasks that can be tracked and real-time visibility into whether those things are being done. So now, for the first time, you have leading indicators into whether you have issues at your properties with compliance, with adherence to your policies and procedures, and with training and that sort of thing. That's a real blessing for our industry."

In the end, simply communicating new policies and procedures is not nearly enough, Phillips emphasized.

"It's not sufficient to distribute the policies and procedures you've written to people," she said. "It's not sufficient to train people on the policies and procedures you've distributed to them. You need to be able to measure adherence to those policies and procedures. That's really what brings it home and helps you achieve 100% compliance with policies and procedures."

Stephen Ursery is a Senior Account Manager at LinnellTaylor Marketing.