Policies and protocols help organizations stay compliant, aligned with standards, and keep employees informed and skilled.
But for any of these documents to be effective, they need to be read and understood. This makes policy acknowledgment processes a crucial part of the workplace.
If you roll out a policy that covers the new year’s updates and the changes that are taking place, that’s only part of the challenge. The process can’t be dropped after that: You need to make sure that employees are following the proper steps that come next.
But, as you might know, asking someone to read through a document and sign it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Especially with teams spread across the office and work-at-home setups, it’s just not enough to rely on email and paper-based policy acknowledgment.
Digital forms and workflows are a way to cut the risks out of acknowledgment activities and introduce new levels of visibility, reliability, and traceability. Policy acknowledgment is more than just signatures and documents: It needs to be seen as a gateway opportunity for organization-wide digital transformation.
Let’s dig into what policy acknowledgment with digital forms is all about.
What is a policy acknowledgment form?
Policy acknowledgment forms—or receipts—are one of the most reliable ways to document that an employee has read, understands, and acknowledges a policy.
Acknowledgment ‘receipts’ follow policy documents, often emailed out or passed around at the same time as the actual protocol itself. When the form is submitted, it solidifies that your organization has followed the proper steps towards keeping teams informed and up-to-date with the latest compliance protocols and policies.
What to Include in a Standard Policy Receipt Form
In order to create a legitimate, full record, policy acknowledgment forms need to meet a standard.
They need to clearly document that: 1. You have communicated the policy and its details; and 2. The employee is stating that they understand and are declaring their understanding.
When it’s a digital form like what we’re focusing on here, it’s also key that you’ve included a signable field at the end, and clearly state what the signature is for.
Here’s a simple checklist to help you get started with policy acknowledgment forms:
✔️ The policy has been sent or is attached
✔️ The form states what it’s being used for
✔️ The reason for signing.
✔️ There’s a signature field
✔️ There’s a name field
✔️ There’s a space for the date
✔️ There’s a space for ‘received by’ to be noted
Standard policy acknowledgment form example
You can use this template for any policy, protocol, or update you need to have acknowledged:
[TITLE OF POLICY] Acknowledgement Form
I acknowledge that I have received a copy of the attached [POLICY NAME]. By signing, I am acknowledging that I understand the provided document and that I agree to follow the guidelines described.
I understand that I am responsible for reading and abiding by all policies or procedures in this document, as well as all other policies and procedures of the organization.
I also understand that the purpose of this document is to inform me of the company’s policies and procedures and that it is not a contract of employment. Nothing in this document provides an entitlement to me or to any employee, nor is it intended to create contractual obligations of any kind.
I understand that the organization has the right to change any provision of this document at any time and that I will be bound by any such changes.
[RECEIVED BY [NAME]]
With employee platforms, policy acknowledgment forms can be assigned as a separate item, with a digital copy of the document linked to the form:
You can plug the template into a different form each time or copy the form and retitle it—digital policy acknowledgment forms are easily customizable.
Why and when you should be using policy acknowledgment forms
Policies and procedures exist for compliance. They’re guidelines that lay out how a workplace handles things—big and small—and give employees a guide of what their organization prioritizes and how to do their job right.
Having a process in place that works to direct employees to read and sign off on these items is crucial, as policies are only useful if you’re putting them into action.
Acknowledgment forms let you know who is complying, as well as give you a log to look back on.
When should you be using formal policy acknowledgment?
You don’t need to use acknowledgment forms for every instance of assigning an updated document. There are certain situations that benefit most from having a sign-off and where a formal acknowledgment form makes sense.
Employee sign-offs for new policies
This is the most common use-case for policy acknowledgment forms and one we’ve gone into some detail on already here.
Whether it’s an update on a daily procedure or a whole new protocol guideline, using a digital form to obtain signatures of acknowledgment from employees is a best practice must.
Acknowledgment forms are an excellent tool for encouraging regular compliance. The reasoning behind this is mainly that it forms a ‘paper trail’ for organizations: You’ll always know what happened, and be able to see who is the compliant party, as well as ensuring that teams are indeed being compliant from the get-go.
If there’s an accident onsite between the operator of a vehicle and another, it’s important to know in the decisions following if one of the employees involved didn’t read and acknowledge this year’s updated policy on equipment operation at the location.
Acknowledgment forms are another way to guarantee compliance and protect your employees and organization.
Onboarding paperwork is something we’ve all talked about with our colleagues and friends, somewhere along the line. Starting a new position is exciting, but the exercise of form after form, lengthy email threads and print-and-scan tasks are not.
Digital acknowledgment forms can speed the process up, and make it a more efficient and useful one at that. Use them to assign policies that need to be reviewed to new hires, and build an onboarding workflow that will send the next policy as soon as one’s submitted (and reviewed, if you’ve configured for that.)
Benefits of digitizing acknowledgment processes
By now, you may know that there are some roadblocks that come with tackling policy acknowledgment in a traditional way:
- Recipients might not always receive the document(s)
- Reaching the right people with the right policy can be difficult
- You can’t always know who is signing, and reminding employees to sign can be time-consuming
- Paper-based risks, like losing signed forms, illegible writing, and poor record-keeping
- Can’t track the process reliably and easily
Any one of these points could easily throw the whole process into disarray, or at the very least burn time. It’s simply a part of work that’s prone to be run inefficiently and sub-optimally.
This all adds up to a compelling picture of why policy acknowledgment needs to be reviewed and innovated. Digital platforms add value to every task associated with this process. It’s simply policy acknowledgment—done better.
Digital acknowledgment workflows minimize these risks and streamline the process. Every signature and form is turned into searchable data, and teams never have to worry about losing a document or sign-off again.
Digital paper trails and fewer risks
Policy acknowledgment has long been based on print-and-scan and email. There are cases where this is quite enough: Smaller teams will find it’s all they need, and organizations that don’t routinely send out policy and protocol updates will likely be fine as is.
Past that, though, there are only good reasons to make the change. Rooting your process in digital forms that are stored on a centralized form automation platform makes everything tracked, searchable, and more accessible than ever. It’s all about ease of use and streamlining.
With a digital paper trail, every step is logged for compliance and auditing purposes, and everything is locked behind logins, passwords, and security measures, as well.
Accessibility and ease-of-use for everyone
When policy acknowledgment is run on an employee platform, the process is more accessible. Employees can pull up assigned policy forms on their personal devices or desktop, and it’s clear which is next on the list for them to submit.
Higher compliance rate thanks to automation and workflows
Automated workflows cut out much of the manual steps employees and their direct reports need to take in the acknowledgment process. Triggers and workflows can be set up to pass along the next policy after the previous is submitted, and direct reports can review each submission and track who is completing which steps.
For employees, they can easily stay on top of their tasks thanks to policy acknowledgment being tied into their daily digital experience.
Employee policy acknowledgment forms in action
Not sure if you want to run acknowledgment with digital forms? iTacit is built around helping people make their workday easier: Here are some resources to help you learn more about how you can use policy receipt forms, and how they can boost your organization’s efficiencies.
Policy acknowledgment form templates
E-signatures are built into each policy acknowledgment form and go a long way towards helping digitize the employee handbook and policy compliance processes.
Want to learn more about digital sign-offs? You’re in luck.
Form automation workflows for policy acknowledgement
Workflows are at the core of the digital experience when you’re using policy acknowledgment forms on a platform like iTacit. We’re here to help you learn everything you need to know about automated forms and workflows, and how you can revolutionize how your organization runs acknowledgement processes.