Stupid Workplace Rules Can Hurt Your Business

workplace rulesWorkplace rules – the bureaucratic policies and red tape common to most organizations – are a hassle for everyone involved. Managers don’t like having to enforce them. Employees resent having to obey them.

While some policies are indispensable, particularly those relating to workplace safety, it’s worth thinking about those rules that complicate the workplace, rather than enhance it.

In a recent article for Open Forum, contributor Bruna Martinuzzi asks, “What can you do to make sense of workplace rules? What are some rules that you should consider and what rules do you need to discard?” Here are some of her suggestions:

Implement a BYOD Policy

A recent Tech Republic survey shows 38 percent of companies lack a viable Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. But as employees increasingly carry with them a variety of mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, personal laptops – many employers are considering how to integrate them into the company’s systems.

“Doing so can create potential security risks,” Martinuzzi notes, but on the other hand, a blanket BYOD prohibition seems like “a particularly punitive policy that is sure to irk a lot of employees.”

One option: Institute a policy “to plug any security holes” while permitting employees to use their own devices, as needed.

Don’t Try to Save Money at the Cost of Alienating Your Workforce

One policy that breeds resentment is the practice of taking back frequent flyer miles employees earn while they travel on company business. Yes, the company pays for the airline ticket but, Martinuzzi says, “consider the wear and tear on health” that comes from long hours of travel, eating bad airport food, disruptions in sleep patterns, and time away from one’s family.

“This is part of the unspoken loyalty of employees to their jobs. Responding by taking away airline loyalty rewards is not a fair exchange.”

Expand Your Outlook on Sick Leave

Conditions vary among companies regarding sick leave policy, but Martinuzzi offers examples of what some successful firms are doing in this area.

At Hubspot, the three-word policy for sick days is “Use good judgment.” This is offered within the context of “favoring your team over yourself” and understanding that “acting in our customers’ interest is our long-term interest, too.”

A small business called Tastefully Simple sponsors numerous wellness initiatives, including a “Hooky Day” (a birthday is a paid holiday).

Encourage Open Exchanges on Social Media.

Many businesses have policies “that muzzle critiques of the company on social media,” but in the age of Twitter it’s increasingly harder to enforce such policies. Consider taking a different approach. Nokia, for example, has created online platforms where employees can express themselves on everything from executive decisions to software inefficiencies – discussing problems and solutions that will help the company improve in the end.

“Business executives need to be prepared to handle more and more open reactions from staff,” Martinuzzi says. Look for ways to permit your employees to “speak up for the good of the company.”

Some workplace rules were put in place to address specific issues. If those issues are no longer a problem, eliminating the rules gives your company (and your hard-working employees) more room to breathe.

What workplace rules could you eliminate today?

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