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Gone are the days of yawn-worthy Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) — these days, great procedures are all about engagement.
With 76% of business leaders saying document process issues impact their bottom line, and that fully addressing those gaps could yield a whopping 36% increase in revenue, creating engaging SOPs is clearly worth the effort.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s received the memo, and there are still a ton of businesses out there suffering from outdated documentation and bored employees.
So, how do you leap ahead of the competition and create epic SOPs that employees truly love?
We’ll show you. Here’s what to do (and what not to do) to make your SOPs stand out from the same-old (+ some pick-and-play SOP examples).
Ready to bring your SOPs into the 21st century? Get in touch to find out how Whale can help.
Unfortunately, there are way too many companies out there that don’t prioritize great Standard Operating Procedures.
The outcome? Frustrated, bored employees who would rather jump ship than deal with any more roadblocks.
But don’t just take our word for it.
Here are some real-life examples of what happens when SOPs don’t work.
Making engaging SOPs is just one hurdle to jump — because if your employees don’t know where to look for the information, you might as well not have bothered to write it at all.
One Reddit user explained how messy SOP management works (or not) in their company:
“[Around 20% of our SOPs] are tracked in a hodgepodge way, ranging from paper forms, PDF files, Excel sheets, Monday.com boards, an individual's memory, etc… The reason for the variety, I think, is because of acquisitions over time and differences in comfort levels with technology among the team. It is certainly not a best practice to have so many different places to capture this information,” they explained.
But unfortunately for them (and 23% of workers), there’s just not enough time in the work day to make it right — which means they have to suck it up.
“It is a source of frustration for me at times (love process and think it adds to the enterprise) but I accept it and focus efforts where things are mission critical,” they said.
Here’s how to avoid messy SOP management:
It’s not just SOP management that can bring employees down. If processes aren’t clear, the outcome can be just as damaging — as this Reddit user found out.
“I've had a handful of similar jobs in the past and always kinda muddled through [but this new company] has stumped me: There is 46 pages of documentation for onboarding a new starter. There’s 182 AD templates for new users. Despite the lengthy docs, no 'decisions' are actually made in it, lots of ‘unless specified otherwise’,” he said.
But the real problem? Finding a way to tell management their processes suck.
“How can I phrase ‘I’m really sorry boss, I am trying my best but none of the processes or docs make sense or have been updated since 2012’?” asked the Reddit user.
Here’s how to avoid creating lengthy SOPs no-one wants to read:
Another Reddit user found herself in a difficult position too — five months into a role with a large multinational, unsure about her new company.
The problem? Too many unclear processes and an ‘our-way-or-the-highway’ approach to systems.
“I’m spending 8-12 hours/week frustrated about roadblocks (unclear processes, cumbersome systems, finding/chasing the right contacts, technology bugs and, of course, time zone differences)… It’s rare that I’m asked to make recommendations or given the opportunity to do so. When I’ve voiced these concerns, I’m told variations of This is the way this company, and every large company, operates. Influence what you can, and build resilience to what you can’t change,” she says.
Here’s how to bring employees into the fold to improve your SOPs:
Fed up of creating SOPs no one uses? Get in touch to find out how Whale can help.
Okay, now we’ve got what not to do out of the way, let’s dive into some of the best ways to approach SOPs.
Here are three SOP examples your employees will love.
Humans are visual creatures — in fact, half of the brain is directly or indirectly devoted to processing visual information.
And when it comes to learning, according to American psychologist William Glasser, “We learn… 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we both hear and see.”
In other words, here’s what to prioritize when it comes to creating engaging SOPs:
So, next time you’re creating an SOP, remember to keep it as visually stimulating as possible.
Video should be part of every SOP. Here’s how it looks in Whale:
[DESIGN SUGGESTION: Add screenshot or GIF of a recorded screenshare showing a procedure. CAPTION: With Whale’s in-tool Editor, you can easily create engaging SOPs using images, gifs, media and videos.]
Let’s break it down:
A quick Google search of ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ immediately draws out words like ‘Efficiency’ and ‘Routine’ — not very inspiring for employees hoping to actually enjoy their day at work.
Injecting some fun into SOPs can be as simple as upping your lingo game and writing SOP content as though you’re speaking to humans (because you actually are). A conversational tone of voice, workplace in-jokes, and even employee nicknames (think: Twitter’s Tweeps) can go a long way.
The Sales Order should already contain all pertinent billing information as part of the company’s Sales Order Acceptance procedure. However, as part of proper internal control, Billing will verify the information contained on the customer’s purchase order or company order form with the sales order and completed shipping documentation.
Try this SOP example:
Our superstar Billing team will ensure the customer’s ‘Purchase Order’ or ‘Company Order Form’ matches the ‘Sales Order’ and that the completed shipping docs contain all the right billing info.
Let’s break it down:
We hate to say it but if your SOPs aren’t easy to access, your employees probably won’t bother to use them.
The key is to create a personalized experience for each role and only give employees the SOPs they actually need.
Here’s how a personalized and accessible SOP could look:
Let’s break it down:
Standard Operating Procedures have a bad rap for being… well, standard. But in a competitive business world, it’s time for that to change.
With the right tools and an eye for engagement, you can easily up your SOP game by creating procedures that employees actually enjoy reading (or watching, or listening to 😉).
If you show employees how it can be done, before long engaging SOPs will become the norm — and so will happy employees and a solid bottom line.
Looking for a new way to build killer SOPs employees actually love? Find out how Whale can help.
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