Originally published May, 2014
I just finished reading Rework by the founders of 37signals. The real voice and practical advice was refreshing. The swear words were attention grabbing and real. I didn't agree with everything they wrote but I clearly understood their positions If only "Employee Handbooks" could be so simple. Handbooks are not suggestions; they are the "rules of the road". People need to follow them, managers need to enforce them and HR needs to get rid of the ones that don't make sense. The contents should be clear, concise and worth writing down.
If I were to write a handbook for real people with real expectations, it might go something like this:
EEO Policy: We try to hire and promote the best people for what we need today and think we will need tomorrow. We hope you are one of these people. If you know where to find more of them please tell us. They don't have to think like us, look like us, or talk like us. They do need to believe in "us".
Harassment policy: Don't treat people badly, meaning worse, because of something they cannot or should not change about themselves. Don't make threats or promises for favors. Attack issues, not people. Don't be "that guy or gal" nobody else wants to work with or you won't be working here.
Social media policy: Be smart, not a smart aleck. Whatever you post on social media is public forever. It affects you it affects "us" and maybe others. Have the facts and have permission to publish them. Keep confidential information confidential.
Problem resolution: if you are worried, concerned or confused about something at work, do something about it. Speak up. We don't know what you are thinking. If we don't know about a problem we can't fix it.
Somehow I don't think the attorneys will let this version fly, but I like it.