Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Types of Business Documents

Businesses use a wide variety of documents in daily practice, from memos and letters to resumes and advertisements, many of these documents are composed for specific purposes and are only used at certain times. However, some business documents are composed for continual use, whether it is by an entire firm or by just a few people. Some of these documents may see more intermittent use, but are still reused throughout the life of the company. In this lesson, we’re going to look at three classes of those types of documents that find themselves being relied on throughout the life cycle of a business. We will start by looking at the policies that companies write for all employees, as well as procedure manuals for specific instances. We will then look at employee programs that are composed to serve a specific purpose, even though they are often reused.


Chances are that your company has a variety of policies that all employees are expected to follow. A policy is a rule that is set by the managers of a company to make sure that everyone has an understanding of expectations. For example, many companies have policies on rampant absenteeism that outlines the steps that a company can take to terminate someone who is always missing work. In short, policies tend to exist to protect the company. This is especially true regarding any sort of issue that would result in a legal problem for the company. As a result, worker’s compensation policies for when an employee is injured in their course of work, as well as harassment policies that protect employees from unwanted attention, are common in virtually every company.

However, not all policies are so uniform. Different departments of a company may have different policies regarding how to request time off for a longer lunch, as well as policies on an appropriate use of a corporate credit card. But wait. How do companies distribute their policies? The documents used to distribute policies can vary widely. Almost all of them are included in employee manuals, however, others are even more visible. For example, many companies use posters to display information on worker’s compensation and harassment policies.

Procedure Manuals

Policies are useful as rules within a company. However, not everything can be made into a rule. Procedure manuals offer a way of outlining steps to follow for different business situations. There is a bit of gray area between policies and employee manuals, but I’m not necessarily speaking about the employee manuals that new hires get during orientation. Instead, I’m talking about procedure manuals that deal with more specific aspects of the job. Employees shouldn’t be expected to soak up every bit of detail for jobs that they do not do. For example, it is relatively useless for a marketing employee to know all the procedures of the engineers. As a result, much of that knowledge would be contained in procedure manuals for engineers. Likewise, marketing employees would have their own set of procedure manuals for marketing purposes.

Employee Programs

Policies may be prominently displayed as bullet points in conspicuous locations around the workplace, while procedure manuals may be stowed close to the place where their material would be useful. But there is a third type of internal document that many companies rely on to disseminate essential information to employees. These are employee programs, which are programs held throughout a company’s calendar to establish baseline levels of knowledge in essential fields. While many of these are presentations, all of them have a list of objectives that must be met. This list of objectives for a program is a crucial business document and is itself often based off of policies or laws. Most notable of these is the standard orientation program that many companies offer new hires. However, employee programs are not only used when an employee is first hired. Many companies also use them throughout an employee’s career as a form of training. Additionally, they can also act as a way to reinforce material presented in other policies or procedures.

Interaction Between the Three

Let’s take a second to understand how these three classes of documents work together. Using the example of a harassment case, we would see that the policy prohibits harassment, especially due to race, gender, age, or several other classifications. However, for many employees, it is through employee programs that they internalize what constitutes harassment and what doesn’t. Remember that these are based off of guidelines that an employer has decreed should be covered, often based off the policies of the company or even laws. In the event that a complaint is filed, human resources would then follow the procedure manual set up by the company to ensure fairness to all parties involved.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, we looked at how three types of internal business documents work to protect the interests of a company and provide straightforward solutions to situations that could arise. We saw that policies are the laws of an organization, stating what can and cannot happen. Policies range from prohibitions against harassment to bans on excessive absenteeism. We then saw how procedure manuals are in place to give set procedures for individuals to follow, often for each division within a firm. Finally, employee programs are in place to provide employees with knowledge that they may not use every day.

Join the conversation