In recently revising our own policy manual here at Zweig Group, it became apparent to us that we cannot have a policy that addresses every single thing that someone in our employ could do (or not do).
I don’t think we’re much different from the organizations where readers of The Zweig Letter work. What we REALLY need are responsible, conscientious employees versus hard and fast rules on how to deal with people who aren’t that.
Here’s some of what I am talking about:
- Time sheets. People have to turn them in so we can pay them and bill our clients. We can threaten it but can’t really dock the pay of salaried employees who don’t turn their time sheets in. We just need conscientious and responsible people who understand why doing so is crucial to the business, not those who require us to be heavy-handed and draconian.
- Comp time. I don’t like formal comp time policies – never have. The big problem with them is their underlying assumption that a 40-hour workweek is “standard,” when we know that most salaried people in this business need to work 44 to 46 hours a week, and management 50-plus, to make a decent profit. So why in the world would you want to “cap” the productive week at 40 hours and give those who work more than that the equivalent time off the next week? It doesn’t make any sense. We need conscientious people who understand that if they worked excessive hours they can take off to see their kid’s soccer game and that’s fine. Conversely, those who never do that (work over 40), should probably use their PTO to cover those hours. We need responsible employees with good judgement here.
- Work from home. We want to be flexible. We want to allow this in select cases, but not as a steady diet. But there will always be those who emerge as abusers of the policy or practice. When interns are calling in to “work from home,” or certain people seem to do it half the time for no good reason, they need to understand they are potentially causing problems for management. First off, other employees who aren’t “working from home” typically resent those who do. They may feel there’s a double standard there that some people get away with it and others don’t. The other problem is it puts the manager in a tight spot. He or she may not want to say “no” to the employee because that isn’t pleasant, but the employee is putting them in a tough spot of either saying “no” and making them unhappy, or saying “yes” (or saying nothing which is tacit approval of their behavior), and then suffering through the complaints of others who feel they aren’t getting the same treatment. Either way it’s an issue. We need responsible employees who don’t create this problem through abusing the system.
I could go on. Hard and fast rules are hard to enforce and sustain. It isn’t in our nature and doesn’t create the kind of climate we all want to work in.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.