Trust is a key component to building a better workplace culture. Yet HR policies can sometimes be redundant, outdated and may even cause distrust between employees and company leaders. Travis Bradberry, president of TalentSmart and co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, shares why it might be time to take another look at editing that employee handbook.
Restricting Internet use
Yes, there are sites that shouldn’t be allowed at work, but Facebook and Twitter aren’t among those. “People should be able to kill time on the Internet during breaks,” says Bradberry. “Many companies restrict Internet activity so heavily that it makes it difficult for people to do online research. The most obvious example? Checking the Facebook profile of someone you just interviewed [for a position].”
Ridiculous attendance, leave and time off requirements
Salaried employees are paid for the work they do, not necessarily the hours they put in. If an employee is dinged for showing up five minutes late, even if they routinely stay late and put in time on the weekend, “you send the message that policies take precedence over performance,” Bradberry says.
Draconian email policies
“Some companies are getting so restrictive with email use that employees must select from a list of pre-approved topics before the email software will allow them to send a message,” says Bradberry. “If you don’t trust your people to use email properly, why did you hire them in the first place?”
Limiting bathroom breaks
“When you limit basic personal freedoms by counting people’s trips to the bathroom, they start counting their days at the company,” Bradberry says.
Stealing employees’ frequent flyer miles
Not allowing employees to keep miles for personal use is a greedy move that fuels resentment. “Work travel is a major sacrifice of time, energy and sanity,” he says. “Taking employees’ miles sends the message that you don’t appreciate their sacrifice and that you’ll hold on to every last dollar at their expense.”
Forced rankings of performance
Pre-determined ranking systems can make employees feel like they’re just a number, can incorrectly evaluate people and can even create insecurity and dissatisfaction when employees fear that they’ll be reprimanded due to the forced system, believes Bradberry. “It’s an example of a lazy policy that avoids the hard and necessary work of evaluating each individual objectively, based on his or her merits,” he says.
Banning mobile phones
Managers need to be trained to deal effectively with employees who underperform and/or don’t meet expectations because they spend too much time on their phones. The easy, knee-jerk alternative (banning phones) demoralizes good employees who may need to check their phones periodically for family or health reasons or as an appropriate break from work, says Bradberry.
Shutting down self-expression
Dictating how many family photos can be on a desk, or the use of water bottles and personal coffee mugs is the wrong approach, Bradberry notes. Obviously a life-size poster of Fabio is probably a bit much, but regulating personal touches in the workplace goes too far, he says.