Are You Using Your HR Policies Strategically?

calendar August 2, 2018

Are your HR policies merely a list of rules to be enforced? Or are they designed to foster a positive company culture that allows you to run your business effectively while attracting and retaining awesome employees?

The growing competition for talent requires new ideas and new ways of thinking, some of which may seem hard to embrace. But don’t let that stop you from rethinking your processes. Organizations who are able to build strong environments based on mutual trust and respect will have a huge advantage when it comes to employee recruitment and retention.

  • When is the last time you took a good, hard look at your approach to managing your employees?
  • Are there some deeply engrained ways of thinking that have lost their usefulness?
  • Do you have rules and regulations hanging around that have staff feeling more monitored than motivated?

If you want to make the important shift from rule enforcement to employee empowerment, here are two common corporate mindsets worth re-thinking:

1.) Rigid office hours

Associating productivity with desk time is an old way of thinking. Just because someone is physically present doesn’t mean they’re being productive. And just because you can’t see your employees doesn’t mean they aren’t working.

With remote capabilities, many employees are checking emails and taking calls even when they’re not at work. According to one study, 20% of workers surveyed said they spent over 20 hours per week working outside the office on personal time. If your company doesn’t require someone to be physically on-site during specific hours to accomplish what you need them to, why not ditch the clock-watching mentality and change your policy to be more dynamic?

Increased scheduling flexibility often correlates with higher productivity and lower turnover. And if you do find the occasional person who isn’t actually putting in the effort or getting things done, you’ll be able to figure it out based on results and address the issue accordingly.

Trust your employees to use their judgement and work when they need to.

2.) Employee dress codes

Many companies have decided to relax their appearance standards— and employees are loving it. If you’re still holding on to strict policies, it’s time to ask yourself why. Is it an integral part of your brand? If so, that definitely needs to be taken into account. But if not, consider this a cost-free way to increase employee satisfaction.

Allowing people to be who they are and dress as they wish creates an environment of acceptance and trust, which is an integral part of keeping employees engaged— and around. And it can expand your talent pool significantly.

That candidate with pink hair just might be the accounting whiz you’ve been looking for, and that applicant with the mermaid tattoo might be the best customer service rep around.

Sure, it’s natural to worry about what your clients and customers might think. But research shows that attitudes are adjusting across the board. A study from The Harris Poll showed steadily increasing acceptance for tattoos in the professional world, revealing that about 35% of all Americans, (and 50% of millennials) are “extremely comfortable” with visible tattoos on their bankers, doctors and judges. And not to get political, but 58% of Americans are even comfortable with visible tattoos on presidential candidates.

If you decide to allow your staff to let their true colors fly, rest assured. You’ll be in good company. Starbucks updated its appearance policy to accept more colorful hair options after an online petition received nearly 15,000 signatures. Did you stop buying coffee when your favorite barista dyed his hair blue? Did you even notice?

Empower your employees, empower your business

Have you been so focused on controlling employee behaviors that you’ve stifled your business as well? If so, it’s time to shift from rule enforcement to employee empowerment.

Think about what policies you have in place that might be holding both you and your employees back, then look for new ways to approach them. Today’s employees want to work for companies who value them as workers and individuals, and who give them the tools and flexibility to do their best.

It’s time to drop the rule book approach and start using your HR policies as effective strategies and motivators to help take your business where it needs to go.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash