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When Do Your Policies Cross The Line

Posted by Insightlink on 07/23/15

And When is it Time to Re-Think Your Employee Handbook

Without trust you have nothing.

I don’t think that comes as a surprise to anyone. At work, trust is communicated in many ways but office policies are often the first line. When a new hire starts, company policies are the new rules, the guidelines for how everyone is supposed to behave at work. These are the rules managers are expected to enforce and make sure everyone is toeing the line.
It is one thing to have vacation day policies so that everyone is treated fairly, and those are policies most of us accept, but it is a brand new game when employers start keeping track of how often you use the washroom.

Keeping track of washroom visits is reminiscent of Big Brother but it happens in workplaces today. Perhaps some organizations don’t care what anyone thinks and would rather lose people then change their ways. They are their own worst enemies and good luck to them if that is their attitude. But there are probably some organizations that just haven’t connected the dots and who don’t realize they have high turnover and low productivity because their policies are breeding contempt in their workforce.
While we are strong advocates of employee surveys and research before you make that decision, we encourage you to evaluate your own employee handbook and make sure you are enforcing rules that are not redundant, rude or the root of serious distrust in your organization.

1. Do you restrict internet use?

If you don’t let your people kill time on the internet on their breaks that’s a biggie. Everyone wants that freedom and when you take it away, you are saying you don’t trust them to know when to work and when to play. If you restrict internet use to the point people can’t do online research, then you are definitely going to suffer consequences when your own HR people can’t check out the LinkedIn page of a potential new hire.

2. Attendance B.S.
You can’t ding someone for being late when they routinely stay late and put in time on the weekends. Policies should not take precedence over performance. If that individual is doing their job and doing it well, performance should take precedence over policies.

3. Old-fashioned email policies

If you don’t trust your people to use email properly, why did you hire them in the first place? Pre-approving subject lines before letting people use email software is an evil practice that will make your employees dislike you intensely.

4. Keeping track of trips to the washroom

People start counting the days at the company if you are going to keep track of how many trips they make to the washroom. That just sounds like something you would expect in prison, not where you work. Come on, that is really a slap in the face don’t you think?

5. Stealing Frequent Flyer Points

Are you like the Grinch trying to steal Christmas? Well when you take away your employees’ frequent flyer points, that is exactly how it feels. It sends a message that you don’t appreciate their sacrifices and that you’ll hold back every dollar at their expense. What kind of a boss are you that you would be that greedy!??

6. Banning mobile phones-really?
This might work for underperformers who spend too much time on their phones but widespread banning punishes everyone without exception and it is demoralizing for good employees who use their phones to check on personal issues and family or who want to use their phones during their break time.

7. Prohibiting personal expression

If you don’t allow people to display family photos on their desk or bring in water bottles or their favorite coffee mug, you are behaving like a despot. Restricting these simple self- expressions will cause more harm than good. Unless there is a good reason, my right to decorate my desk should not be any one else’s business, just as I should not judge your taste.

So look within before you go outside in search of answers to your problems. You may be able to regain trust, improve turnover and even increase productivity just by changing your policies. They could be causing more harm than good, which makes it a worthwhile investment of your time to ensure they are not the source of your problems.

Here is to happier employees!





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