Have you ever had a job with vague policies that leave you with more questions than they answer? I’m sure we have all been there at some point. Who do these policies hurt? The people who are enforcing them. If they are unclear, the employees have multiple ways of interpreting the policies. This can could lead to a misunderstanding that results in disaster.
What kind of policies?
You should know your company and what their rules are. If the rules are unclear, it is not the employees fault. The employer should take the fall for not being clear. For example,take a policy that claims the dress code is “casual,” but gives no examples or any broader explanation. It can be interpreted in many ways. One person’s casual could be jeans and a blouse. Another person’s could be sweatpants and a baggy shirt. Who’s wrong? Technically neither, but if an employer cares about the image of their employees, maybe a pair of sweats don’t cut it. It’s important to be clear if you have clear intentions. Every expectation should be laid out in front of an employee. No one is a mind reader, so you can’t expect anyone to just understand vague or unsaid policies.
Are your policies too much?
There should be room for flexibility. No one likes a micromanager. In the case of the vague uniform regulations, examples of what is considered appropriate casual attire. If an employer wants to give the employee more autonomy, then maybe just examples of what is not appropriate. There will always be that one person who does not follow policies, but that does not mean that freedoms should be taken from all employees. If a certain policy is being abused over and over, an employer should look at their own policies. This does not mean that they have to take anything away, it just could mean that they have to be clearer because people are clearly misunderstanding.
Exceptions should also be built into policies. Sometimes life happens, and it would be illogical for any employer not to take that into consideration when writing the rules and regulations of their business. People get sick, we sleep through our alarms, the babysitter does not show up. Things happen, and in the case of time off, flexibility is key. If a person does not have any sick days left, but gets the flu, they should not be forced to go to work in fear of losing their job. An effective policymaker sees potential issues and addresses them head on. Employees cannot stay at a job that micromanages every aspect of their life, forces them to work while sick, docks pay for attending a funeral.
For example, I worked for a company once that took bonuses away if you ever called in. My grandfather died, and they took my quarterly bonus away for attending his funeral. Needless to say, I did not stay at that company for long. The company had no flexibility in their policies, and pushed many employees away. Unfortunately, as much as any employer would like to make sure that nothing ever goes wrong, some circumstances cannot be avoided.
Policies are important, but they should never be too rigid. Life is a beautiful mess, and sometimes things just go wrong. It’s just as important to know that you are covered in a pickle as to know what to do when you’re not.