People — employees included — tend to behave how you expect them to. If you trust them and treat them like adults, more often than not, they will behave as such and get the job done. If you micromanage, create policies daily and think they are all slackers, you might be asking for it. Too often, what could be great employers spend too much time penalizing the many for the mistakes of the few and cost themselves outstanding employees along the way. If your employer refuses to budge on the issues below, it could be a sign that they're a bad match for you in the long run.
1. Working from home is a no go (no flexibility in general).
I get it. There are some roles where it simply isn't feasible to work from home 100% of the time and get your work done as well if you were on site. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a work-from-home day every once and a while to catch up on the things you’re never able to accomplish in the office because of all of the interruptions.
Places that refuse to even entertain the idea of letting you work from home every so often are missing the point. You’re not sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching soaps. Working from home is just that. Working. And if your employer is telling you that you can’t do your job anywhere but at their location, and on their timing, is a little short sighted, especially if they ask you to be attached to your phone and responsive more often than not!
And let’s not forget places that lack flexibility in general in terms of schedule. If you’re an early bird who can come in early, deliver on tasks and be out the door by 5 p.m., yet your company says, “No, the hours are 9 - 5:30” — even though you came in at 8….that’s just silly. It would be one thing if you weren’t delivering, but if they care more about butts in seats than getting great work done, they will lose people.
2. Unpaid parental leave.
This is a HUGE deal. Becoming a parent is a major life change. Attempting to do so with no payment whatsoever only adds to the stress that you’re under. Organizations who truly care about the big picture and the lives of the people who work for them recognize this and do their best to help fund this time for the family. Whether it’s short term disability or paying salary outright, there are options that organizations can provide that would help them keep their new parents happier, performing effectively and longer term within their business.
3. Dress code.
There are business dress codes out there that are pages long. I kid you not. If the people you’re hiring can’t figure out how to dress themselves without pages of copious notes and details on how to, you’re doing something wrong. In order to have a thriving culture that retains its employees, organizations need to have faith in their teams. Assume positive intent and help them out when they need it. Most businesses create policies, because quite frankly, conversations telling someone they aren’t dressed appropriately are awkward and no one wants to have them. So, they figure, let’s spell it all out in this manual that no one ever reads and we’re golden. Wrong. And unnecessary. #treatthemlikeadults
4. Approvals for everything.
Empowering people to make decisions, to make change, to create new ideas and processes is everything. If a business creates red tape more than anything else, what’s that about? If you need to head out early for an event, it’s one thing to shoot a text to your boss to communicate, it’s a totally different ballgame if there’s a several level step process to get approved to do so. Places that function that way feel more like a prison than an employer to most people. No one will stick around in that realm in the long term.
Environments that are founded on things like the policies listed above aren’t conducive to people doing great work — which is what people want to do. It’s no wonder that a policy-driven place that hasn’t taken the time to get to know what truly motivates their employees, and craft an environment around that, loses its people. If you find yourself seeing your current employer left and right as you read, it may be time to rethink things. Or, at the very least, have a conversation about more progressive policies with HR!
Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at www.kellypoulson.com.