Have you ever felt that sinking feeling when your laptop decides it’s time for an update, right when you’re in the middle of finalising an urgent report or you’re about to hop onto a critical Zoom meeting? It’s like your device is saying, “Hold on to your digital hats, because I’m about to take a quick nap, and you’re coming with me!” Now, imagine your business is a bit like your laptop – a complex, finely-tuned machine that occasionally demands a bit of TLC in the form of updates. Not to software or apps, but to something even more crucial: your compliance – in the form of policies, processes, and agreements.

Let’s face it, nobody gets a thrill from the words “policy revision” or “process update.” It doesn’t come with cool new emojis or snazzy interface upgrades. Instead, it’s about keeping your business’s inner workings running smoothly, ensuring that you’re not only compliant with the latest regulatory requirement but also primed to outmanoeuvre any operational gremlins.

Think of it as the less glamorous, but equally important, side of business management. Just as ignoring that “Update Available” notification on your phone or laptop can lead to all sorts of digital doom, glossing over the need for regular documentation reviews is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with your company’s compliance and efficiency. Sure, it might not crash today or tomorrow, but you’re definitely setting the stage for a spectacular compliance crash.

People and situations change within a company as it experiences growth. What might have been effective in the past may not be suitable for the current state of the business. Regular revisions allow for alignment with the organisation’s current needs and goals. This adaptability is crucial in cultivating a resilient and legally sound operational framework. It’s about making sure your operational integrity isn’t running on the equivalent of a smartphone OS from 2010 – functional, maybe, but hardly at the cutting edge of efficiency and security.

In the event of legal disputes, such as those requiring appearances at the CCMA, Bargaining Council, or other forums, having up-to-date and well-documented policies and procedures is a make-or-break factor. The ability to produce concrete evidence and demonstrate adherence to the most recent agreements can significantly strengthen the company’s position. Conversely, outdated or inconsistent documentation may jeopardise the case, leading to reliance on witness testimonies, which may not be as reliable or impactful.

Apart from being able to prove your case in forums as mentioned, it is equally crucial for companies, organisations, and other entities governed by MOIs (Memorandum of Incorporation) or Constitutions to ensure that their practices and processes are implemented in accordance with the rules governing them. Failing to adhere to these guidelines opens the entity up to scrutiny and potential legal challenges.

Updating your company’s ‘operating system’ isn’t about adding more tasks to your already overflowing plate. Treating the revision of policies, processes, and procedures as an ongoing strategic practice is vital for your business. It not only ensures legal compliance but also enhances your organisation’s ability to manage challenges effectively. By staying ahead of changes and consistently aligning with the company’s current state, leaders can create and nurture a culture of adaptability and resilience, ultimately contributing to long-term success – ensuring that the business stays as agile and responsive as the latest smartphone, minus the annoying part where you accidentally hit “update later” for the umpteenth time.

By Annelien Breed

Executive Director at Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO SA)