50+ SAMPLE Work Instruction

What Is a Work Instruction?

A work instruction is a business document that clearly and concisely describes the correct method or process of accomplishing daily activities or tasks. The transmission of information often occurs to assignments that cause serious injuries, damages, inconveniences, and other problems if performed poorly. It aims to illustrate, dictate, or stipulate the proper sequence of steps to perform to ensure the successful completion of work or activity. The main priority of creating a work instruction is to explain the specific steps to achieve a mandatory action. Compared to describing work procedures, work instructions provide more detail and clarity to a particular measure of completing a job. Work instructions describe how to execute Standard Operating Procedures or SOP.

According to an article from SHRM.org entitled The Cost of Poor Communication, a survey from 400 companies with over 100,000 employees communicates that an average loss of 62.4 million US dollars annually comes from inadequate communication between management and employees or between employees themselves. As a result, companies must give clear instructions to employees and stabilize a good communication process from top to bottom and bottom to top.

Types of Work Instructions

The purpose of creating work instructions is to offer concise and detailed instructions to help employees accomplish tasks according to set standards to ensure their personal safety and those around them. As such, there are different types of work instructions that management provides, depending on the given activities or business processes. Continue reading the section for more information about the diverse classifications in various organizations.

Step-by-step work instructions: The step-by-step process is ideal for straightforward methods. In this type of work instruction, the procedure presents itself into a numbered list or a simple checklist that indicates precise approaches for each. The primary purpose of the step-by-step process is to make straightforward yet detailed instructions for new employees to follow without direct supervision or guidance from management. Hierarchical work instructions: The hierarchical approach focuses on a top to bottom process that leads to the completion of work or activities. This type of work instruction cover four steps, including policy, procedures, guidelines, and documentation. The policy stage introduces the scope of the work instruction, including information about what is and isn’t covered by the approach. The procedures outline the detailed steps of achieving the task and the designated roles and responsibilities of people working on the activity. Guidelines indicate other additional information to meet the quality standards of the organization. Meanwhile, documentation, as the name suggests, is the final stage of the process that records details for safe-keeping that ensures compliance with company and industry policies and procedures. This type of work instruction approach is ideal for complex processes utilizing numerous phases and steps, including client onboarding or equipment lease and maintenance.Flowchart work instructions: Flowchart work instructions focus on a visual diagram that maps out the various procedures from beginning to end. Flowcharts contain different shapes, arrows, or images that help the reader understand the next step of the process. This type of work instruction helps in various scenarios. Consider one when creating an invoice approval process. The flowchart assists in establishing conditional and logical operations, resulting in a more efficient process workflow of employees in the company.

Components of a Work Instruction

Practical work instructions must be complete and easy to understand. The format must be extensive to guarantee that the employees receive an informative document, ensuring the safety of all individuals within the company. Below are the elements of a work instruction that must be present when sending out the work instructions to different departments.

Title Page: The title page or cover page provides a clear instruction of the procedure according to its department. Since various companies have a multitude of departments serving their purpose, each department produces a work instruction to suit their goals and responsibilities. The title page also contains the document name, date of approval or document revision, and the document number.Scope and Quality Assurance: The content of the work instruction includes all the activities of a work process, focusing on a singular, repetitive, and standard process or routine. The company must have multiple work instructions for different procedures with its documentation. The scope must define the entire process, including those that are undefined in the present document, referring them to another piece of work instruction. Quality assurance states the method of surveying and monitor work processes to ensure that employees follow company quality standards. Identify all the necessary procedures, measuring criteria, and action plan the company takes to quantify the quality of products or services.Schedule: The work instruction schedule details the operation of processes, whether it is daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. It must also define clear instructions on the steps to perform when emergencies arise through emergency action plans.Purpose: This section of the work instruction must introduce and detail to employees the importance of following the procedures for the safety of individuals and the company. It must indicate whether the processes are mandatory for workers to take. It also considers the importance of these processes leading to the efficiency of operations of the organization.Responsible Individuals: The last section of the work instruction document identifies the individuals performing the designated work processes. It lists the department and teams they belong to, including their responsibilities. It also details the accountable persons when special situations arise before, during, or after work procedures, like company managers, inspectors, and supervisors.

How To Create an Effective Work Instruction

When writing work instructions, Technical Writers must have sufficient information about performing a particular task or activity. The responsibility is to write understandable and comprehensive work instructions that different individuals can perform without expert supervision. Below is a helpful guide in drafting an effective work instruction for your company.

  • Step 1: Start with a Clear Title and Brief Introduction

    Begin your document by indicating the title, clearly indicating the task. The introduction must provide essential information and contextual background to accomplish an activity. It must also include details about the individuals to complete the job and define its purpose. Identifying these elements help with a precise Goal Setting for the record.

  • Step 2: Indicate a Description of the Work Process

    In writing the steps of the work process, begin with a comprehensive List Of Items an individual needs to accomplish the job. It is practical to write the materials or objects using a bulleted list to distinguish between one and another to avoid confusion. It also matters to list the items logically. Indicate all Relevant References into the text through indexes or hyperlink formats for any clarifications. The work instruction can also incorporate images, flow charts, or tables for easier and better understanding.

  • Step 3: Format Text for Easy Understanding

    First and foremost, work instructions are educational tools. The purpose is to present the audience with the Best Procedure to accomplish a task. You must select a format that you must use for the entire document. Remember to indicate the steps sequentially with only a single action for each. When using infographic elements, make sure to accompany them with descriptions or references for clarity. Keep texts and images to one side, for example, images on the left and text to the right. It is also effective to write in bold, italic, underline, or uppercase to emphasize essential actions and information.

  • Step 4: Revise the Document As Necessary

    The key to effective writing is brevity, meaning it is concise, simple, and precise. For creating work instructions, ensure that sentences are not complex with more than 15 words. Instead of using extraneous or hifalutin words, use curt and uncomplicated text. As much as possible, prevent from using acronyms. If it is necessary, write the full context first, then abbreviate afterward. It also helps to provide a glossary page at the end of your document. Keep consistent with the used terminologies for the entire document and stick to it.

  • Step 5: Indicate the References

    When writing the references of the work instruction, consider adding a footnote or an appendix page. References serve as additional sources to expand reading and Learning Opportunities.

  • Step 6: Test Out the Work Instruction

    Before printing multiple copies of the document, ensure that it is comprehensive and understandable. Have a friend or colleague perform the job, following the instructions. It helps determine whether parts of the work instruction are confusing and require further clarification. During the process, observe and note the discrepancies that the individual struggles with, revising the instructions as necessary.


What is the difference between a work instruction and a procedure?

Work instructions contain detailed descriptions of an activity or task. Meanwhile, procedures often refer to a series of tasks that a person needs to perform to reach a particular outcome. Procedures often take a group to complete different steps, while work instructions require a single person to complete a task.

What is the importance of work instructions?

Work instructions are essential to businesses as it provides a standard for management and employees. It gives a better understanding of the minimum expectations of organizations and supplies detailed instruction and guidance to workers on daily tasks or performance and emergency procedures. Comprehensive work instructions also save time and money, resulting in efficient productivity and happy customers.

Who writes work instructions?

Technical writers or field experts write work instructions for a particular department, task, or activity. Persons who have the most work experience in accomplishing the job must be the ones to compose a work instruction. The individuals working on drafting the document must be intimate with the role and have the full potential to give the necessary information. It is advantageous to write work instructions with the involvement of multiple expert individuals for the best results.

Every institution aims for a safe working environment for its employees and customers. Through well-defined and comprehensive work instruction, employees reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. Management can also guarantee that the quality of work coming from employees follows community and industry standards. All organizations must provide effective work instructions to their employees coming from technical writers and experts that possess first-hand experience in completing a task in the most efficient manner. In the words of Peter Drucker, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”. Start your work instruction document by downloading the samples available above in PDF format. Get yours today!