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The Eight Most Evil HR Policies

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. Full bio

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com


We are all waking up from our stupor and realizing that just because you have a job doesn’t mean you should be treated like dirt. There is no reason on earth for HR policies to be as insulting and demeaning as they are. In 2015 we are still living under an Industrial Age mindset.

Recently I spoke to a group of HR leaders. We talked about the employer-employee relationship. “We cling to the notion that because someone is getting a paycheck, they must grovel and be grateful,” I said. “Some of the leaders have that mindset in my company,” said one HR Director.

“They say ‘Hey, I’m writing the checks, so I’m in charge!’ but that’s crazy. If I own an apartment building, I don’t say ‘My tenants write the checks, so they’re in charge!’ I still have standards.”

It’s a new day. The working world is changing, and the more we talk about the necessary changes,  the faster they will come. One of the first ways to build your own Human Workplace is to nuke any remaining Evil HR Policies like the eight we’ve outlined below. If you work for a company that still has these horrible policies in place, talk to someone about it.

Tell your workmates to do the same thing. None of these policies has a business rationale — it’s just old-school fear manifested in command-and-control processes that can only slow down a team and drive the best employees away.

The Eight Most Evil HR Policies

Stack Ranking

Any company that is still stacking up its employees like pieces of lumber and comparing them to one another does not deserve your talents. This old-school Jack Welch process is idiotic and insulting to everyone involved.

Working Sick

Too many employers make it a disciplinary infraction to be sick and stay home from work, even when an employee is on salary. That’s a great way to get employees to come into the office and spread their germs around when they should be home in bed!

No References

Imagine how it would feel to work for a company for twenty years, get laid off and then be told that the company won’t give you a reference? It happens every day, because some weenie lawyer told the CEO that a rogue manager might give someone a bad reference and the company might be hit with a defamation claim. If you don’t trust your managers, why do you let them manage? Give them a seminar to teach them how to give references, and then stop stabbing your former employees in the back!

Stealing Miles

If it’s my tush in the chair for hours in an airplane, I earned the frequent flyer miles that go along with the trip. Companies that steal their employees’ airline miles are too cheap to lead a team to greatness. Talk about penny-wise and pound foolish! There are at least a thousand better ways to save a few bucks.

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