Examples of business policies may include an employee code of conduct, the rules for requesting time off, or the guidelines for handling customer returns. Examples of procedures may include the method for responding to customer service emails, the steps to file an employee review, or ways in which an accountant calculates the operating costs of a department.
Business policies refer to the specific rules a company passes on to its employees for completing different tasks and responding to different situations. Many human resources departments outline numerous policies for office conduct, such as a dress code, acceptable language or sexual harassment guidelines, often making them available as both written and digital documents. The policies only explain the rules employees must follow in the outlined circumstances and do not necessarily need to contain instructions on how to complete tasks. For example, a company policy on harassment may mention behavior that is unacceptable but include the methods for reporting this behavior in a separate document.
Company procedures are the rules for completing tasks that appear in policies, and they may appear on their own or as part of other documentation. A procedure, though dependant upon a policy, differs in that it describes the exact steps an employee needs to take in detail. For example, if a retail store has a policy to allow returns on any product, the procedure would include the ways to attempt the return, how to use the company's purchase system, and what to do if the return is not possible.