Difference Between Rules and Policies

Rules vs Policies

Difference between rules and policies must be a point to focus on for every employee. We say this because for smooth and effective operations in any organization, rules and policies hold great significance. While policies are broad guidelines that reflect the aims and objectives of the organization, rules are meant more for day to day operations to proceed smoothly without any glitches. There are many similarities between these two concepts arising mainly due to overlapping of the same end purpose. However, there are glaring differences that will be talked about in this article to remove any doubts from the minds of the readers.

What are Policies?

Policies of an organization, company, individual, or even a government are meant to guide behavior and activities in a particular direction to help achieve goals and aims. Policies are usually made by top management and provide a broad framework within which an organization and the workforce perform all activities. You must have heard the term foreign policy too often in newspapers. It defines the broad framework that provides guidelines for a country to have relations with other governments and countries. Governments come and go but this basic foreign policy more or less remains the same and there is no drastic change introduced by an incoming government. Policies help the management to take decisions accordingly to keep the organization on the path chosen by the founders of the company.

Difference Between Rules and Policies

Foreign policy of a country is very important.

Let us take the example of a school. Every school has a set of policies pertaining to education, admission, and conducting classes. These are broad guidelines that become a distinctive feature of the school and set it apart from other schools. The school may have a policy that says a child of a staff member cannot be in a class that belongs to the said staff member. This is a procedure taken to make sure fair attention is given to every student.

Another example for a policy is anti-discrimination policy. This is followed by many companies to ensure there is equal opportunity for all employees regardless of their sex, race, religion, etc. To enforce that policy rules are used.

What are Rules?

Rules are meant to guide the behavior and attitude of the employees to help them behave according to situations arising in day to day operations. These rules make sure that there is no inconvenience to any employee and they can work with their full efficiency. For example, if employees are asked not to smoke in the premises of a factory or keep their mobiles switched off during a meeting, these are considered rules.These are followed as rules so that there is no commotion during work and everything goes off in a smooth manner. Traffic lights at any intersection are rules to be obeyed by commuters and vehicles to allow smooth operation of traffic.

Rules vs Policies

Rules say what is not allowed and allowed.

Also, if you consider a school, as mentioned before, it has certain policies. It is on the basis of these policies that rules are made that are to be followed by teachers, staff, and students of the school in day to day situations. For example, fighting with another student is not allowed. If a student does that he or she is punished.

What is the difference between Rules and Policies?

• Policies are the aims and objectives of an organization that provide a framework for the management to take decisions accordingly.

• Rules basically get derived from these policies, but are dependent upon situation and often get changed.

• Rules are there to allow smooth functioning in day to day operations.

• Whereas policies answer the questions what and why, rules are designed to provide answers to how, when, and where.

Policies are considered as statement of intent and reflect on the aims and objectives of any organization while rules are meant to guide the behavior and attitude of the members of the organization to help them behave according to situations arising in day to day operations.

• Policies highlight an organization’s aim to do something. For example, anti-discrimination policy. To enforce these policies, rules are used. For example, an employee, who harasses another employee, can be fired.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Foreign policy of a government via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Rules by Pallowoom14 (CC BY-SA 3.0)