Why policy and conversation should be bff’s

So I found myself a few weeks ago in a discussion on LinkedIn about the use of uniform policies and this guy wrote something along the lines of ..

We work with adults, treat them like adults we don’t need a uniform policy!

Then plenty of others went on to put in their thoughts cheering him on saying “yeah you just need to have a conversation”. Then I came along and rained on everyone’s parade, then the policy police were brought up and then I decided to step away before I said something foolish on social media.

I feel we look at policy the wrong way because we have built this HR rule book feel as a profession. It’s the brand of like HR walking around looking for what people have done wrong and citing the policy. That’s not what I do for a living, no way! But there was a period of time where this was the perceived image of HR – they were the policy police, smacking people for being naughty. So as we emerge from the dark ages and into the dawn of the conversation and HR being more than a compliance team, let’s not be ignorant and let’s think about what policy implementation has taught us.

3 things that we have learned about policy include:

  1. if all you are good for is reciting policy then your career has an expiry date;
  2. if you smack people with policy they really wont like you, their manager or the business; and
  3. policy is kind of essential to keep you out of court and ensure messages are clear.

Businesses are communities, and like any community there are rules you are expected to follow to be part of it.

Think of the communities you belong to whether it be your family, a sport team or a volunteer group. There are expected standards of behaviour of how you will treat each other.

Sometimes we mess up, someone has a conversation with us to see what the hell we were thinking. Sometimes we really make a mess of things, get a talking to and face the consequences. Same goes for at work.

However work has the high stakes of finance, health and safety and legal obligations, so it makes sense to have some kind of documentation to ensure we are on the same page.

So, what does this mean for you as a HR practitioner or line manager? It means we need to respect the policy and treat it like insurance. It’s purpose is a communication tool to share what is expected from people. It serves as a point of reference when an employee claims “they were never told” or “I don’t understand what you mean”.

Have the conversation using the policy to get your facts right, and really, if it escalates then we can start having the tough conversations, that might include, yes a policy reference.

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Making your employees use social media

It seems that every smart employer has a social media strategy of some sort. We acknowledge that communicating with our customers is what strong brands are all about these days.  More and more we are seeing employers involving their team members on social media, asking them to engage with hashtags and share what’s going on at the company. I completely advocate for this approach. Get your team involved on social media, it’s good for your recruitment brand and your culture if you get it right.

But can you mandate your employees to be part of your strategy? Can you wake up one day and decide it’s going to be part of everyone’s job to post to Twitter and LinkedIn. Sure you can draft a policy that makes it so, but does it really? Social media is about freedom. Freedom to connect, express your opinion and who you are. If your employees choose to engage in your strategy then that is great, but you shouldn’t place any direct or indirect pressure on them to post and share content about the company on their personal profiles.

If you want to go down this path you should consult your team members about the change. Remember these are their personal accounts you want to influence. These accounts that are attached to their names and internet identify for life, consultation is key.

Social media is a bit of unchartered territory and we are all learning and growing with it. But we must never lose sight of what makes social media valuable – the freedom and power to express our voices.

Image credit: Jason Howie | Flickr

Recruitment ads for zombies

Recently I spent a fair chunk of my time reading and reviewing recruitment ads across a variety of industries. What this has exposed to me is an across the board propaganda campaign to make jobs appear much better than they really are. There are a handful of companies that I came across who manage to communicate some kind of authenticity through their recruitment ads.

Here are my top 3 cringe points for the current state of recruitment advertising:

  1. The job ad lacks any kind of authenticity. It could be used for any company in that industry and it looks like a HR zombie wrote it. The overuse of the words dynamic, energetic, proactive and detail orientated is annoying me also.
  2. We are wasting valuable space on telling people about the company – that is what google is for! Don’t waste space on this, job seekers do not care about the history of the company.
  3. We are trying to jazz up jobs that really, aren’t that jazzy. Let’s be honest about what the job is, you might get less applications but they will be the right ones.

We are all guilty of writing the text-book recruitment ad. Why? Because it’s easy, it takes minutes to churn out and generally, yeah, it will get results. But ads like these don’t do our business cultures justice and they don’t do our teams or the role justice.

So the next time you are writing a recruitment ad, read it back to yourself and critique whether you have accidentally prepared it for the zombie workforce of the post apocalyptic society, or whether you have prepared it for actual humans who deserve better.

Image credit: Andrew Becraft | Flickr

Delete your LinkedIn contacts – they belong to us!

Ahhh LinkedIn, the great online world of professional networking. Would you agree to delete the contacts you may have made during your employment on departure if it was instructed by a workplace policy or your employment contract? Personally, I don’t know how I feel about this.  However we are starting to see cases where employers feel their departing employees are exploiting the connections they have made during their employment. This is especially true in times where employees leave consultancies to start their own competing businesses.

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Firstly from a learning perspective, LinkedIn provides me an amazing opportunity to follow and connect with people who share great articles and perspectives, some of these people I have met through my employment over the years. Reading posts and engaging with these connections makes me a better professional. I wouldn’t like to think that I would need to delete people out of my learning network just because I happened to meet them as part of my role.  On the flip side, if I was an employer and I knew for a fact that a departing employee was using the contacts they had made through me to poach work or employees I would be furious and I too might want to put my foot down and have some strongly worded contracts and policies drafted. Some of the policy recommendations to manage LinkedIn connections mentioned in HR Daily this week include:

  • Defining solicitation in contracts and policies to include “updating employment details on LinkedIn”;
  • Acquiring a list of a persons contacts on commencement; and
  • Requiring them to delete any contacts they made during their employment as part of the departure process and building in a clause to say they can’t add them again for say 6 months.

I think what we are seeing here is a struggle for business to keep up with a connected workforce and business landscape. People are moving in and out of organisations faster than before, people are making connections, building networks and really starting to recognise that this is where the value is, and this is the new world of work. Business owners naturally want to protect themselves from competition and damages however removing people from LinkedIn wont stop solicitation and poaching, It might make it easier but it wont stop it. Building in phrases such as “you are not to use LinkedIn or any social media outlet to solicit clients or employees that may cause damage to blah blah blah company”, might be all you need, but it isn’t guaranteed to work and the court isn’t automatically going to enforce it.

It’s such an evolving area and with very limited case law to go by it’s going to be interesting to watch the law and business come to terms with this new networked world.