Writing Workplace Policies

Policies, policies, policies!

Should workplace policies be written to give employees the right to do something, or should they be written to encourage employees to do the right thing?

Too many policies are written to address the misconduct of one mistake or poor judgment. Policies often contain canned language or punitive language with no real teeth. Too many policies fail to explain the “why” related to the policy. 

Here are some way to improve your policies in the name of workplace wellness and make them sound like they’re from this century instead of regurgitated, copy-paste language from yesteryear.

  • Timekeeping policies shouldn’t just be a way to keep tabs on employees. Let employees know that in addition to legal requirements, you have timekeeping mandates because you are committed to making sure everyone gets paid for all the work they do.
  • Also in the world of timekeeping, rather than just telling employees that they “must” take rest and meal breaks and that failure to do so could result in discipline (“up to and including termination”), tell them that the intent of this policy is to prevent burnout. A well-written policy tells your employees that you value their physical and mental health.
  • Disability policies should cover more than legal obligations. A great employer does more than comply with reasonable accommodation requests. Stating the “why” gives you a chance to tell employees that your goal is to make the process a win-win proposition.
  • Bullying policies are often vague and fail to define what is meant by “respectful” or “professional.” Does this mean that saying one curse word after stubbing your toe is wrong? Or does it mean that a boss who throws things at employees is behaving acceptably because he’s “high spirited?” Give specific examples and be realistic, and follow up by discussing during training, evaluation meetings, and to answer any questions.
  • If you opt to have a policy emphasizing your commitment to a respectful workplace, enforce it. Consistently.
  • Policies about evaluations and salary reviews could help create a more seamless process, but unfortunately many policies make the process more bureaucratic. Inauthentic, canned language sends the message that you only see the evaluation process as a necessary evil and does not help set expectations or serve as an employee development tool.

Additional Resources

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About PersuasionPoint

Patti Perez is founder and CEO of PersuasionPoint, a modern-day consulting firm dedicated to teaching leaders and teams how to create and sustain healthy, equitable and inclusive workplace cultures. Patti is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Drama-Free Workplace (Wiley 2019), and draws from the book’s themes to provide practical, authentic, and action-oriented solutions to help companies achieve true diversity and equity, and to create environments of belonging and inclusion.

Patti and the team provide services specifically tailored to address workplace struggles with recruiting, retaining, promoting and fully valuing diverse employees – including consulting, leadership training, and boot camps for diverse attorneys who are emerging leaders.

Contact Patti here or email her directly at Patti@PersuasionPoint.com.

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