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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


i could read this book all day weenie with policy manual from story eight most evil hr policies linkedin march 2015

Attendance Policies for Grownups

I led the HR function for a Fortune 500 company, and I told the Payroll folks “We don’t track any time off that the law doesn’t require us to track. Just keep the paychecks coming.”

It’s so much smarter and easier to deal with attendance on an exception basis than to track every half-day off for personal time or bereavement leave, I’m surprised that more companies don’t abolish their attendance tracking and attendance policies for salaried employees.

It’s knowledge work, so who cares whether you leave an hour early or not? Most knowledge workers take their work home with them anyway, at least in their brains. Ditch the Machine Age attendance policies and expect people to come to work — and they will.

Stitch-Level Dress Codes

If you don’t trust someone to get dressed in the morning, they shouldn’t be on your team in the first place. Lose the insulting stitch-level dress code and talk generally with your teammates about how to dress for work. You’re going to have to have the odd conversation with a person who gets a little too club-by or beach-y in his or her attire, and that’s fine. Every conversation is a trust-building exercise!

Bereavement Leave

When someone in an employee’s family dies, it’s a sad time. The last thing you want to do is to make your employee’s burden greater by insisting on seeing a funeral notice in order to authorize a few days of paid bereavement leave, but companies do it. I was horrified when I heard about this.

Your employee’s whole department has undoubtedly heard about the family member’s illness or accident and sympathized, so why should The Company devolve to weenie status and treat your valued employee like a potential death-in-the-family fabricator? It’s disgusting. If you’re going to demand a funeral notice to prove that a loved one died, why not go whole hog and require a tissue sample from the deceased? We can do better.

Leave Yourself at Home

Some employers don’t allow team members to take or make personal calls while at work. Others don’t let people check social media at all during the day. Some employers don’t let their employees bring in a houseplant or a spot of color to liven a workstation. Who wants to work for a company like that? You hire living, breathing people and your customers and shareholders benefit when you celebrate the human side of work.

Now is the perfect moment to get rid of policies that treat your hand-picked staff members like criminals or children. We’re all rooting for you!

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