Developing and Implementing Cancer Smart – Workplace Policies and Guidelines

Nine steps to introducing a policy

1 Be informed  

  • Gather information
  • Clarify your responsibilities
2 Form a working party 

  • Seek broad representation
  • Define the role and activities of the working party
  • Choose someone to chair the group
3 Develop an action plan

  • Consider the ‘action plan checklist’
  • Consult with staff
4 Keep management informed

  • Prepare a report(s)
5 Develop the policy

  • Write the draft policy
  • Consult with staff and management
  • Trial new initiatives
  • Review the draft policy
  • Develop a plan to implement the policy
6 Educate employees about the policy and promote it

  • Conduct awareness raising activities
  • Arrange training for all staff
7 Implement the policy

  • Commence the policy
  • Set review dates
8 Ensure policy benefits are maintained 

  • Monitor compliance with the key elements of the policy
  • Conduct ongoing supportive activities
  • Deal with any problems as they arise
 9 Review and evaluate

  • Consider the process
  • Consider the results
  • Revise as necessary (go to Step 3 and repeat)

Success factors for policy development and implementation

Experience and research suggest that policy development and implementation will be more successful if:

  • Employers and employees representing a cross-section of the organisation actively participate in planning, consultation, decision-making, determination of strategies, implementation and review
  • A written policy is developed that is adopted, supported and reviewed
  • Ongoing training and information is provided as a key component of the policy
  • Staff and management have ongoing opportunities to comment on, and review, the process and the impact of implementation of the policy
  • A system to support regular review of the written policy is developed
  • Action is taken for the consideration and integration of all recommendations from the review process.

When planning and implementing policy, it is important to remember that some of the changes will be focused on the individual level (eg employees awareness and behaviours) some will be at the structural level (eg flexible scheduling of work to support people dealing with cancer) and some may be at the organisational level. Ongoing consultation is the key to successful policy implementation. Whether an organisation is adapting or reviewing an existing policy or is in the process of developing a new policy, the “˜nine steps’ process outlined will be useful.

Step 1: Be Informed

  • Use available information to build a sound argument as to why a workplace policy is needed.
  • See sample cancer smart policies.

Step 2: Form a Working Party

  • Ideally a working party will be composed of workers from a range of different departments, union representatives, HR representatives and management; in some cases the working party may include peak organisation representatives or consultants.
  • Interested people can be recruited through notice boards, newsletters, meetings and pay-slip notes; alternatively departments or sections could be asked to nominate representatives.
  • There may be an existing committee that can take on this task.
  • The working party will need direction and an action plan covering the development and implementation of the policy.

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan

  • Consider the Action Plan Checklist:
    • Does the organisation need to develop a new policy or can it adapt or update an existing policy?
    • What model policies or guidelines can be used as a reference?
    • What existing organisational or local resources are available to assist the process?
    • Who should be consulted in the policy process? Which workers from which departments? Unions? Return to Work Coordinators? HR Managers? Management? Health/counselling staff? Peak organisations? Consultants with expertise in the area? Marketing and Communications staff?
    • What is the budget for developing and implementing the policy?
    • What strategies can be used to ensure that the policy is implemented and evaluated?
    • Ask employees’ opinions at workplace meetings.
  • Conduct interviews, focus groups and/or a workplace survey. See sample survey.
  • Talk with employees informally and get a sense of their opinions.
  • Ensure you have used consultation to help you determine:
    • Employees’ and managers’ current awareness and knowledge of the issues and of any existing policies
    • What issues (if any) have been identified as being particularly important to address
    • Potential barriers to be addressed at the policy implementation stage.

Step 4: Keep Management Informed

  • Preparing a report(s) for management is a useful step in gaining their support if they are not already involved and leading the process. The report could cover health and safety requirements, legal responsibilities, advantages of developing and implementing the policy as well as the proposed action plan and budget.

Step 5: Develop the Policy

  • Write the draft policy: use a model policy and information gained through the consultation process as the basis for your policy.
  • Develop “˜SMART’ objectives for your policy (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced, and Time-based).
  • Address any other relevant issues, including the procedures for dealing with non-compliance.
  • Consult with staff and management: circulate the draft policy to key stakeholders for comment.
  • Give employees an opportunity to generate ideas about the best way(s) to improve on the draft document.
  • Provide up-to-date information on the progression of policy development at meetings.
  • Trial some of the new ideas and initiatives for a period.
  • Amend the draft policy to reflect feedback from the consultation and trials; as far as possible incorporate the views and recommendations of those most affected by the policy.
  • When the policy document is complete, circulate it; it may be helpful to prepare a one-page summary version highlighting the most important aspects of the policy.
  • An effective policy depends on an implementation plan being an integral part of the development process.

Step 6: Educate Employees about the Policy and Promote it

  • Conducting activities to raise awareness and improve understanding amongst employees is a critical step in effective policy implementation; make sure that supervisors and managers are included.
  • There are different ways to raise awareness: posters, brochures, pay-slip notes, newsletters are other methods to be considered.
  • Design and conduct an information session or workshop dealing with the issues surrounding the proposed cancer smart policy. The session could be dedicated to the policy issue, or it could be integrated into an existing program as appropriate.
  • After the initial training or information session, updates should be conducted at regular intervals and be incorporated into orientation/induction materials for new employees.

Step 7: Implement the Policy

  • Encourage managers and supervisors to be fully acquainted with the policy so that they can be seen to be supportive and can answer any questions.
  • Set realistic timeframes for implementation of the policy and for its ongoing review; consider whether the policy is to be implemented with immediate effect or whether there is to be a defined “˜introductory phase’ before the policy becomes compulsory.

Step 8: Ensure that Policy Benefits are Maintained

  • Establish the means to see whether the policy is being implemented as intended and that employees are complying as required, eg establish a process where workers can feed information back to the policy working party on a regular and ongoing basis.
  • Seek employee suggestions about ways of ensuring compliance with the policy across the organisation.
  • Conduct ongoing supportive activities, eg provide information on the policy at induction training for new staff and include in in-house training programs for managers.
  • Promote or reinforce the policy throughout the year through notice boards, posters, discussions, brochures, memos and staff newsletters.
  • Write some speech notes so that the CEO or General Manager has an opportunity to make strong and supportive public statements about the policy.
  • Run a policy update/information session every year.

Step 9: Review and Evaluate

  • The process of policy implementation should be reviewed regularly in the first 12 months by senior management and by the HR section of the organisation with the assistance of the policy working party or group.
  • The methods advocated for Step 3 can appropriately be used again here to check on policy implementation (opinions, surveys, focus groups).
  • The process of review can be as simple as asking staff for comments on any problems they think may be occurring with the new policy and practices, or as sophisticated as a formal survey.
  • Both the results of the policy and the review of the written document should ideally be undertaken annually or at least every two years.
  • The review process could be integrated into other workplace policy review processes.