Procedural Adherence in the Times of an Epidemic

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All companies have procedures. The challenge is getting consistent adherence to those procedures. This is more important than ever with a hygiene crisis.


Procedures, documents, bureaucracy, and training. Too often staff feel that they are being asked to comply with unreasonable and unrealistic expectations. Procedures written by teams in office environments are too often imposed on line workers who have production targets to meet. This conflict between “efficiency” and “compliance” is an ongoing challenge for nearly all organizations.

When it comes to COVID and hygiene, getting 100% compliance to your standards will be a big challenge. Face masks, washing hands and other critical hygiene steps are often skipped for expediency. We all know that it only takes a single contamination to shut-down an entire plant, so it is more critical than ever to focus on procedural adherence.

Why first, then repeat

If you are introducing new procedures and protocols to your organization, it is absolutely critical that you focus on explaining the “Why”. There are a few “Whys” you need to consider, but you need to focus on the ones that will drive adoption. Explaining the “why” through stories is often much more powerful than facts and figures. Try to use your own staff or your own situation to explain why a procedure will avoid problems going forward. Simon Sinek delivered a famous TED talk on how all great organizations focus on the “Why” before they talk about the “What” or the “How” of their operations.

Even when you explain the “Why”, you will receive resistance to change. This is normal as we all have habits and biases. At Nimonik, we have a few tricks for getting procedural changes adopted. They are mostly based on the science of repetition. It is said that someone needs to repeat or hear something 65 times before it becomes a habit. To get to that magical figure of 65, we often position the change as a pilot project. In the end, the pilot project is forgotten and people have adopted the change into their habits!

Inspect, Inspect, Inspect (and repeat the “Why”)

Once you have established the new habits, it is critical to inspect your teams for procedural adherence. This needs to be done on a regular basis and in a consistent manner. If staff feels different people evaluate them differently, it can become extremely frustrating. We strongly recommend a checklist that allows auditors and inspectors to conduct inspections consistently.

When your inspectors are conducting an audit on the shop floor, it is essential that they provide the same “Why” to all staff that you provided during the training or procedure introduction. You need not only to repeat the actual inspections and requirements, but also the “why”. If you can nail this down 65 times with everyone involved, you may have a good chance at changing your team’s behaviour for the long term.

Good luck and contact Nimonik for any help you might need.

Nimonik’s audit templates include a lot of tools, but you can also easily create your own checklists and use our iPad and Android inspection software or another system.

If you need help implementing a Comprehensive Compliance program for your organization and your stakeholders, please contact us at of at +1-888-608-7511