Policy change how to communicate
Source: Zoho privacy policy change

Two clients in the past month have asked me:

How do we make sure staff know that a policy has changed?

During my career I’ve tried several approaches and seen many more.

The EULA approach

The standard solution that Health and safety or HR teams suggest is an intranet or digital workplace or email check box or link that staff members click to say they understand the change. Much like the EULA you click OK on every time you install some software.

The outcome is that the HR or H&S team have a list of staff names that they infer understand what the change means to them individually. What they really have is a list of names of people who have clicked a link, or ticked a box, or opened an email.

In my opinion much of what staff are asked to agree to or read is redundant so for these items the EULA approach isn’t a problem. If however the change in the policy could improve the chances of someone avoiding death or injury or going to jail then another approach is better.

Spell it out approach

This approach is what prompted me to write this blog post. My experience was as follows:

  1. I logged into a site to help a client, one I hadn’t been to for a while. – Just like staff do into an intranet.
  2. Before I could get to any part of the site I was notified things had changed [Nice] – this is possible for any or all intranet pages using some javascript to deliver a page overlay. The overlay prevents any action until the the user clicks the I understand the changes button.
  3. In my case the overlay asked me to read the changes to the policy and gave me a link to the changes and an ACCEPT the changes button.
  4. Being curious I clicked on the changes link and got the following.

    Red and green spell out policy changes
    Source: ZOHO privacy policy changes

I think this is great. It is very clear what has changed.

For intranet and digital workplace professionals I think this sort of thing would be a great start. But . . . it could be improved. If your digital workplace has staff as it’s core then while the legal team will want a version in legalese , you have a very good argument to translate this into what the changes actually mean for real humans.

Stretch goal : translate one policy change into human impacts for your users in the next month!

Spell check approach

While the spell it out approach is good and could be improved by translating the changes into human impacts, I think things could be better for your staff.

The spell check approach has the goal of encouraging behaviour the policy was created for. So rather than getting staff to click Yes I’ve read the new policy (EULA approach) OR read and see the changes (spell it out approach) you check that the policy is being complied with.

To give you an example: Imagine I run the intranet for a big mining firm. Health and Safety is a big deal and as the intranet manager I notice that the most recent H&S team initiative is to reduce vehicle accidents. Specifically related to backing out of parking spaces into things. Specifically the H&S policy has been changed to say:

Parking vehicles must be done in a safe manner.

When parking, all vehicles they must be reversed into parking spaces. This gives the driver maximum visibility entering moving traffic.

The spell check approach would involve:

  • Getting the message out so the H&S team are certain everyone has heard it.
    • If you don’t know how many staff visit the home page or what proportion view news contact me and I’ll help you with getting those metrics.
  • Using an intranet survey to follow up. A survey using photos of both good and bad practice provides a measure of staff understanding.
    • Ideally you want to do this pre and post getting the message out so that you can show the policy is understood.

Intranet best practice for policy changes

Use the right approach for the importance of the policy change. At the very least offer these three approaches to the team wanting to ensure staff know about the policy change.

  • EULA approach – you could use the analytics for the new policy document. You could also build an I understand overlay for every page on your intranet.
  • Spell it out approach – compare the two documents, and create a version that shows both the removed and added material. Microsoft word has the legal blackline compare function but you will need to format the result to make it easy for staff to scan. Then make the new version and the compared to previous version available during the communication campaign.
  • Spell check approach – do some or all of the previous approaches but measure the change in behaviour the policy is trying to create. The trick with this is to THINK first, then do the work.

Let me know how you help your staff understand policy changes in your organisation. Remember, if you need help with digital workplace projects contact me.

Policy change shmolicy change. How to show and check staff understand change.
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