Tag Archives: employee handbook

Don’t Blame HR for Making all the Bad Policies

policymanualPolicy manuals have been a topic of contention for years.  There are those firmly in the camp that they are not needed.  There are those who believe in a minimalist approach, only including what is absolutely legally necessary to add clarity (I fall in this camp).  Then there are those organizations who have a policy for everything.  I’ve worked in all types of organizations and no matter if the manual exists or how long it is, I’ve heard employees comment that they do not like “HR’s policies”.
I can tell you from experience that HR is not writing all of your organization’s policies.  In fact, the most senior leadership often comes to HR to add specific policies, thus they are sometimes more operationally focused or financially focused.  Those that HR truly creates tend to be more compliance and legally driven.
So why does this matter?  I think it represents just one way that HR gets a negative reputation.  I’ve been called the HR police more times than I care to admit.  The truth is that as human resources, we love NOT to be the HR police.  We’d love nothing more than not needing a policy manual.  The reality though is that someone has to ensure there is some standard of behavior in an organization and HR is often the group that leads that.
So, the next time you’re unhappy with a policy, try to think past the standard idea that HR created it.  Try to imagine that at some point, a leader thought it was necessary.  HR is often the group responsible for carrying out the enforcement of policy.  In addition, if you disagree with a policy or feel it could be improved, don’t hesitate to speak up.  Collaboration in policy making can actually lead to happier employees.  Take a chance…

Throwing Out The Employee Handbook

Flip through any organization’s policy manual and my guess is you’ll find no less than twenty.  After all, some poor “Personnel” department thirty or forty years ago toiled over creating all the boundaries and lines that should not be crossed.  Policies, like many other things, grow and multiply over the years.  All the companies I’ve worked at have had more policies than one HR pro can possibly remember and if it’s hard for HR to remember them all and we use them daily, just imagine how employees feel.  They usually have no idea what is really written in there unless they look it up.

I admire companies like Nordstrom for cutting down on all the distraction of over-orchestrating an employees every move.  For many years, employees received the following:

Nordstrom Employee Manual

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

I’ve heard new Norstrom employees now receive a little more direction in order to comply with legal regulations.  Shouldn’t a company be able to have a short collection of statements that focus on which behaviors they WANT their employees to exhibit instead of focusing on what people shouldn’t do?  Can we treat employees like adults?  I’d argue that we can.

We may never all get to the point of having a one page employee handbook, but if you had to look at your own organization, what is one policy you’d throw out today?  Share it in the comments.  In the end, we’ll have the list of “Worst Policies of All Time”.

Tearing Up the Employee Handbook

Flip through any organization’s policy manual and my guess is you’ll find no less than twenty.  After all, some poor “Personnel” department thirty or forty years ago toiled over creating all the boundaries and lines that should not be crossed.  And, like many other things, they grow and multiply over the years.  All the companies I’ve worked at have had more policies than one HR pro can possibly remember and if it’s hard for HR to remember them all and we use them daily, just imagine how employees feel.  They usually have no idea what is really written in there unless they look it up.

I admire companies like Nordstrom for cutting down on all the distraction of over-orchestrating an employees every move.  For many years, employees received the following:

Nordstrom Employee Manual

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

I’ve heard new Norstrom employees now receive a little more direction in order to comply with some legal regulations.  And, I realize we can’t all get to the point of having a one page employee handbook.   But if you had to look at your own organization, what is one policy you’d throw out today?  Share it in the comments.  In the end, we’ll have the list of “Worst Policies of All Time”.