Work instructions (also known as job instructions) are pivotal in reducing human error and promoting superior, more efficient, and safer job performance. However, the effectiveness of these instructions hinges on their quality. Standardized, flexible, and concise work instructions are what teams need to thrive.

In our post, we'll take a closer look at the benefits of having this type of documentation for your employees as well as key components to creating effective work instructions. 

What is a Standard Work Instruction?

Standard work instructions are detailed, step-by-step guides that outline how to perform specific tasks or activities within an organization. They specify the necessary actions, tools, materials, and quality standards essential for completing a task effectively and efficiently. 

Beyond serving as a roadmap for operational execution, these documents play a crucial role in ensuring consistency, minimizing variability, and safeguarding compliance with safety and regulatory standards across the workforce. Designed to be clear and accessible, work instructions support employees in achieving high levels of performance while adhering to the organization's quality benchmarks.

What is the Difference Between a Work Instruction and a Procedure?

While work instructions and procedures are both forms of documentation used in organizations, they serve different purposes. 

Work instructions focus on the detailed steps involved in performing a specific task, providing guidance to employees on how to execute the task accurately. Procedures, on the other hand, are broader documents that outline the overall process or workflow for completing a series of related tasks. Procedures may reference multiple work instructions and provide an overview of the entire process, including roles, responsibilities, and decision points.

Why Create Work Instructions?

Work instructions can give your business the agility to adapt to changing climates. Take, for example, the sudden need for a restaurant to adapt to contactless ordering and delivery during health crises. Work instructions can swiftly guide staff through implementing new hygiene protocols, setting up digital ordering systems, and managing logistics for home deliveries. This not only facilitates a rapid transition to new operational models but also ensures new employees can hit the ground running without extensive shadowing or training, saving time and maintaining efficiency.

Let's take a closer look at the benefits of creating work instructions for your employees:

  1. Standardization:  With clear work instructions, you can easily establish internal standards by sharing work from senior members with juniors. Work instructions can also serve as a useful repository to refer to when your team members are uncertain.
  2. Quality Control: Work instructions also help you deliver a consistent experience. By detailing steps and quality standards, you can help make sure your team is on the same page every step of the way. Give your customers a memorable, predictable experience by giving your team accessible instructions.
  3. Compliance: Staying up to date with changing regulations is never easy. Work instructions simplify the process, allowing regulatory changes to be communicated quickly to your team. Keep your legal department happy by making it easier for your team to stay up-to-date and compliant, whether you work in manufacturing or marketing.

Work instructions should be easy to use, but they can be complicated to set up. Between the seemingly endless list of features offered and the hard-to-quantify needs of your team, getting started is likely a headache you’ve had enough of. That’s why in this article we’re going to take you through everything you need to know to set up effective work instructions for your team.

Key Components of Effective Work Instructions

Work instructions can be a powerful tool to help supercharge productivity, but they could also be a confusing jumble of resources that nobody in your team ever uses. To create effective instructions, you need to understand how a range of components work together.

Let’s explore some of the key components you’ll need to understand to get the full value from your work instructions.

Clear Objectives

Context is everything. Without clearly stating the desired outcomes of your work instructions, it may be difficult for team members to navigate to them or make sense of how to apply them in a real-world setting. State your objectives clearly in the title and description of your instructions.

Accessible Step-by-Step Guides

It’s easy to take for granted how much you already know. While making your work instructions, remember to take a step back and keep their perspective in mind. Many features and processes you barely register in your mind may be baffling to newer members.

Take advantage of the step-by-step nature of work instructions and break the process down into individual tasks. This will make it easier for your team members to follow along with your instructions, and it will also help them remember details better as each step of the process forms its unique chapter.

Visual Tools for An Engaging Experience!

It’s a common criticism that people don’t read anymore, mostly because it’s kind of true. Today’s worker read less than ever and consume most of their information through video or picture format. But if you can’t beat them, join them!

Embed videos directly into your work instructions to visually demonstrate concepts that are tricky to verbally articulate. Keep your team members engaged with graphic effects or exciting music. You can even save hours from mentoring by screen-recording tasks as you do them and automatically storing them in your work instructions. Work instructions give you a seamless knowledge transfer experience.

Troubleshooting Tips: Expect the Unexpected

Troubleshooting is one of the most common uses for work instructions, and for good reason! You can’t always call the Ghostbusters when something goes wrong. Sometimes, your team members will need to figure out some problems for themselves, especially if these are problems they’re coming against often and they have a simple solution. In that situation, work instructions can save precious time.

Feedback Mechanism

It’s all good and well to have the perfect solution in place for your team, but if those solutions aren’t working or could be improved upon then you need to know about it. A feedback mechanism does just that by letting your team members voice concerns, complaints, or any possible compliments they might have.

Here are some examples of feedback systems you could implement into your work instructions to ensure continuous improvement:

  • Surveys
  • Feedback forms
  • Clear performance metrics
  • Email or other communication channels

By delivering clear objectives in a step-by-step procedure with the help of visual tools and a troubleshooting guide, work instructions can help your team collaborate effortlessly. Even so, the content of your work instructions matters as much as the structure and format you deliver them in.

Best Practices for Creating Work Instructions

Following best practices is like a shortcut. Instead of trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t for yourself, you can rely on the accumulated knowledge of the entire industry. Here are some industry best practices to ensure that your work instructions adhere to a professional standard.

Understand Your Audience

Each member of your team has a different set of responsibilities and priorities. That means different aspects of the business will carry varying amounts of importance for each of them. That’s why you must have a clear idea of who you’re setting up the instructions for, and for what function they might use them.

For example, members of both the product development and marketing teams will need to learn about your product. However, for your development team, technical specifications may be more important, while your marketing team might care more about business use-cases.

By creating your work instructions for a clear audience with clear targets, you can dramatically improve how effectively you communicate your point.

Ensure Accessibility

Doing the job is already hard enough. Don’t make your team’s lives more miserable by forcing them to decipher walls of text and hours of monotonous video. For effective communication, you need to make sure that your work instructions are as easy to access as possible.

You can increase accessibility simply by breaking down pages into short paragraphs with bold, eye-catching headlines. You can test to see that your instructions are visible under a variety of conditions, such as on the laptop or phone, in different browsers, or across operating systems like Android and iOS.

Test and Validate

Before you finalize work instructions, make sure they work as intended. You can do this by working who will go through each of the tasks you’ve set up. You can then get feedback from them and make some final improvements.

Accelerate the Creation of Work Instructions with Wizardshot

Work instructions are vital for bridging training gaps and keeping your business agile. Equip your workforce with precise guidance to help them execute tasks more efficiently.

With Wizardshot, you can effortlessly generate visually appealing, user-friendly work instructions, complete with step-by-step guides. Simplify the documentation process and empower your team to excel. Start streamlining your work documentation today for free with Wizardshot.