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Throwing Out The Employee Handbook

Originally posted: April 13, 2012 on TrishMcFarlane.com

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”.

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