Every professional organization puts forth formal statements of desired standards of behavior and procedures across the organization. This type of official written guidance is commonly referred to as company policy or corporate policy.
Purpose for Corporate Policy
There are many good reasons for organizations to formalize guidance in the form of company policies. A few select reasons include:
- Ensure compliance with federal and local laws
- Provide a safe workplace for employees
- Promote increased efficiency and profits
- Provide governance over information technology resources
- Plan for disaster recovery
- Hire and retain qualified staff
The Fatal Side of Policy
Failure to put effective policies in place opens up a company to significant legal and financial liability. Running a business without appropriate policies is like flying a plane without a pre-flight checklist, then flying without any radar, and skipping the routine maintenance checks after landing. Sooner or later, the results are going to be less than optimal.
There are a lot of positives when policies are well thought out, documented, communicated, and enforced. Unfortunately, not all policies are well thought out. And when they are not, the effects can have unintended negative effects that can start a downward spiral that may be virtually impossible to reverse.
What do you think of requiring an employee to provide a death certificate or other proof, when an employee is out due to a death in the family?
Check out Liz Ryan’s article titled “Five Destructive Company HR Policies,” for some insight on the effects of certain company policies.
Destructive HR Policies
A policy is like many other tools in business. It can be used to make things better or worse. Some policies simply require specific legal terms and language to appropriately protect a company or may be required by law. For other types of company policies, significant opportunity exists to provide clarity and empower employees. This can lead to better decisions and actions that drive performance, profits, and competitive advantage. On the flip side, ill-formed policies can have destructive effects.
Following are some guidelines that may help in identifying if a policy might potentially be destructive:
- Does the policy account for every contingency and exception, so that managers have virtually no latitude when dealing with individual employee circumstances?
- Does the spirit of the policy assume that employees are things that a company has to protect itself against?
- Does the policy require that you have a law degree to read and understand?