Organizational Wellness

Guide to Writing a Standard Operating Procedure

Dec 5, 2023
Last Updated May 23, 2024

Variety is the spice of life — and the name of the game in HR. Human resource leaders constantly juggle multiple responsibilities, from recruitment to performance management. In this whirlwind, processes can easily get disorganized, leading to inefficiencies or (worse) non-compliance.

Enter standard operating procedures (SOPs). These detailed instructions act as a roadmap for consistent execution, which helps everyone in an HR department adhere to best practices. In this way, SOPs can help drive organizational success through streamlined processes and meticulous compliance.

Here’s how to write a standard operating procedure that will help advance your department.


What Is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)?

A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a document that outlines a step-by-step process for performing a specific task or process. It can cover any aspect of an organization's operations, including safety procedures, manufacturing processes, customer service procedures, and financial processes. SOP’s can be a PDF, or more interactive — they can take the form of flowcharts, videos, checklists, and more.

It can take time to set up standard operating procedures, but the upfront effort can save time in the long run. Rather than relying on managers to teach a task over and over, employees can be trained or refresh their memory independently. SOP’s also ensure that future training is consistent by providing a single source of truth.

Purpose of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Having an effective SOP can provide several benefits to an organization. Let’s dive into some of the specific benefits your organization can get from implementing standard operating procedures for your processes. 

Improved Safety 

This is one of the most significant benefits of having an SOP. By documenting procedures, employees are more likely to follow established safety protocols, reducing the likelihood of accidents or injuries. An SOP can outline specific safety protocols and provide such depth and insight to how to perform it that your team stays safer. 

Ensuring Compliance 

Compliance is important in many industries but crucial in so many. Compliance can make or break your organization’s reputation. By documenting procedures, organizations can ensure that they are meeting regulatory requirements and industry standards.

Adherence to Schedule

This is essential for organizations that operate on tight deadlines. Projects of any kind can fall behind schedule. By following established procedures, employees can complete tasks more efficiently, reducing the likelihood of delays or missed deadlines.

Effective Training 

Training is critical to ensuring that employees can perform tasks consistently and efficiently. By documenting procedures, organizations can provide more effective training that includes step-by-step instructions and quizzes to reinforce learning. Training your new teammates up front is also vital. Employees that have excellent training and onboarding experiences are also three times more likely to say they have the best job possible

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Formats

SOPs can be written in several formats. Each format has its benefits and should be chosen based on the task or process being documented. Depending on your team and the process you’re standardizing, one format may be a better fit than the others. 

Step-by-Step Written SOPs

Written SOPs (also called “user documents”) are the most common format for SOPs. They provide a detailed description of each step required to complete a task on a written document that’s easy to share with anyone who needs to perform the process. 

This format is best for tasks that require a high level of precision or involve multiple steps. You will most likely rely on written SOPs for more simple tasks that you want to make consistent and to train team members to do well. 

Checklist SOPs

Checklists are popular in other facets of life for a reason: they represent processes in a simplified format. This format is best for tasks that are routine or involve simple procedures,  such as cleaning up after each shift. Checklists can also be used to ensure that all the steps in a more complex process are completed, or to remember small tasks that occur frequently.

Flowchart SOPs

A flowchart visualizes what a process looks like and helps your team follow one step to another. This format is particularly useful when a process isn’t fully linear and is best for tasks that involve multiple decision points or involve complex procedures. If someone needs to choose a different course of action based on certain conditions, a flowchart can be a great way to help make that simple.

Hierarchical SOPs

Sometimes a process is complex and has multiple levels of decisions or substeps to complete. A hierarchical SOP provides an overview of the process, followed by detailed descriptions of each step and each substep. This format is best for tasks that involve multiple levels of detail or require a high level of precision. 

Interactive Course SOPs

You can use online tools to provide step-by-step instruction and quizzes to reinforce learning. This SOP format is best for training employees on complex procedures. They can also be particularly useful for training new team members on processes they need right away, or for training people on entirely new tasks they’ve never done before. 

Video SOPs

This format uses video to provide step-by-step instructions. This format is best for tasks that involve physical manipulation or require a demonstration. Video can also be particularly powerful because the human brain is designed to remember visuals more than spoken word. In fact, your brain remembers 65% of what you see but only 10% of what you hear. So video is also a great choice for processes that might be otherwise hard to remember. 

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Template

With all those benefits in mind, let’s look at how to begin creating a standard operating procedure. While there are a lot of formats out there, we’re looking at step-by-step written SOPs because they’re the most common. Here is an example template for an SOP to get you started:


Title: Task Name

Objective: The objective of this standard operating procedure is to provide step-by-step instructions for completing a particular task.

Materials Needed: List any materials required to complete the task.


  • Step 1: Description of task here.
  • Step 2: Description of task here.
  • Step 3: Description of task here.
  • Step 4: Description of task here.
  • Step 5: Description of task here.
  • Step 6: Description of task here.

Quality Control: Describe any quality control measures that need to be taken to ensure that the task is completed accurately and efficiently.

Safety Precautions: List any safety precautions that need to be taken to ensure the safety of employees and others involved in completing the task.

Training: List any training requirements for employees who will be completing the task.

Revision History: List any revisions made to the SOP and the date on which they were made.

Setting the New Standard for Wellness with Wellhub

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are essential tools for organizations seeking to achieve consistency in their operations. By having an effective SOP, organizations can improve safety, ensure compliance, adhere to schedule, and provide more effective training. 

One of the most important processes to streamline is caring for employee wellbeing. Workforce wellness is tightly tied to productivity, making it foundational to business success — there’s a reason 90% of companies that track wellness spending see a positive return on investment.

Adopting an employee wellbeing program provides a path to improved staff wellness. Speak with a Wellbeing Specialist today for help standardizing your employee wellbeing efforts!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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