Bad company policies can cause a loss in revenue, high turnover, poor quality of work, a bad reputation, reduced employee engagement, and a whole lot of headaches for management! Your company policies can suck for many reasons. I am going to explain a few of these reasons and provide solutions to turn your bad policies into good policies.
If your company doesn’t have any policies (or very few), you are not off the hook. You have a bigger problem than you think! I will address this towards the end of the post.
Here we go:
- Too passive – Yeah we are in at the age of not wanting to offend anyone. We are also at a time where some companies are too cool for rules. Damn the man! Well…the more passive your voice, the less serious you look and the less likely this policy is worth the effort to type.
Here is an example: “Employees should come to work between 9 and 10am”. Then you start getting annoyed because some employees are regularly showing up at 9:59am. You can’t blame them, they are following your written policy.
What to do – Be firm! If you want something done, say it! If you want employees to show up at 9 am say, “The work day starts no later than 9 am”. Don’t give an option for 9-10am and then get your panties in a wad.
- Leaves room for interpretation – If you leave room for interpretation in any policy, you must expect the worst and be OK with that scenario.
Here is an example: “Our dress code policy is casual.” What does casual mean here? Employee A comes to work thinking casual is jeans and a t-shirt. Employee B comes to work thinking casual is pajama pants and a tank. Employee C comes to work thinking casual is shorts that you can see her under cheeks with a low cut tank. Employee D comes to working thinking casual is jeans and a t-shirt with a not so appropriate/questionable graphic that already offended 2 women.
Do you feel the need to speak to any of these employees? They are all following the “casual” dress code.
What to do – Be specific on what is appropriate and not appropriate as per the policy. In my dress code example, you can still say your dress code is casual, but you have to go a bit deeper than that. Explain what casual means by giving examples. Better yet, explain what is not appropriate.
- Does not reflect what is actually done – Sometimes there are company policies and then there are the way things are really done. Why so confusing? Just change the policy to reflect what is really going on. No games, just truth.
Here is an example: The Paid Time Off policy states, “Each employee must request paid time off 2 weeks in advance unless there is an emergency”. In reality, no one gives that much notice and it is acceptable to give a 1 day notice unless an emergency. Now that is MOSTLY OK for you, but sometimes not. Employees are then confused and will be surprised if they are turned down from taking a planned day off because they are doing what they have always done.
What to do – You have two choices here. 1. Change the policy to reflect what is actually being done. 2. Enforce the policy as it is.
- Not enforced by management – If your best managers can’t or won’t enforce the policy, it is worthless! All personnel should be aware of each policy and hold each other accountable for following accordingly.
Want an example for this one? Pick a policy any policy, don’t enforce it and it’s still worthless.
What to do – Require all management to be familiar with each policy and the disciplinary action associated with any violation. All policies must be taken seriously by management so their subordinates take them seriously too.
- Hard to find – If a policy is written and no one knows about it, does it exist? If a policy has not been distributed to employees (hard or soft copy) and/or made available via an employee handbook, it is as good as not having one at all.
Here is an example: Your company creates a new employee handbook full of great policies, but you don’t communicate them to your existing employees. There is no email, no link, nothing. The policies therefore don’t exist.
What to do – Any new or updated policy must be distributed to each employee and made available to view electronically or in hard copy. Preferably having a soft copy available for viewing on a shared drive or employee portal is best.
- Copied from the internet or a friend in the industry – Another company’s policies are a good start when you have nothing to go on. However, just as when you copied your friend’s book report, it is obvious. Employees will be able to spot a miss match in tone and expectations. A copied policy that does not sound like it came form the company or does not mesh well with the culture will not be taken as seriously as you hoped.
No example needed here. I think you get the point.
What to do – Since each company is unique, it is best to change the policy to reflect your company and its culture. If the policy seems like it did not come from your company (too stuffy, too light, not exactly what you do) change it.
Not sure if your company policies suck? Consider having your company policies and employee handbook reviewed by an HR Consultant.
Don’t have any written policies?
The lack of set rules for the company leads to issues down the line. You may have been lucky with hiring a few good employees at the start. You may have not had a major issue yet. Trust me, this will not last long. As the years go by, as your company grows, as you hire that one wrong person, something will cause you to rethink your no rules stance. At that moment you will put on your “oh crap face” and think where did we go wrong?
Don’t be taken advantage and don’t risk a law suit. Take my advice above and create some basic policies to protect your business and your people. If you are not sure where to start, an HR Consultant can help!
Remember- Good employees will not be negatively affected by good and thoughtful policies. Do what is right for your business and your people. Create company policies that don’t suck!