Employer

We all have times at work where we are left fuming at some nonsensical office rule. If you’ve ever had a boss enforce draconian measures, then you’ll know it’s the quickest way to reduce productivity and lower morale. All it does is inflame resentment towards management. Petty work rules can end up alienating an entire workforce if a manager is not careful.

If you think your workplace imposes stupid rules, then Reddit’s discussion thread  has taken it to another level: one organisation insisted employees could only drink water out of company-approved plastic cups, another prohibited afternoon coffee because it was ‘wasteful’, and one PC obsessed office even banned staff from saying “Bless you” if someone sneezed.

Almost everyone has a story about petty office rules that appear deliberately designed to annoy you. If you ever worked in an diktat office environment where a power drunk manager thought they were Napoleon, then the following rules are likely to drive you mad.

1. Inflexible demands for attendance, vacation and time off

Staff are paid to get results, not for the 9am-6pm timeframe they are supposed to be at their desks. If you have ever been disciplined for being five minutes late, then you’ll already know how infuriating timekeeping rules are. Especially if you consistently work late and do unpaid overtime without a word of recognition from your boss.

Another stickler is when management doesn’t trust you when you have a doctor’s appointment or have to take time off for a bereavement. If they don’t trust you when a loved one has died, what does that say about your company’s values? Life is short enough as it is without ridiculous rules demanding forensic proof of illness or a relative’s passing.

2. Unable to work from home

With rising commuter costs and work/life considerations, if your job doesn’t require you to be in the office, then why can’t you work from home? Not allowing staff the chance to telecommute is a sign of weakness and only benefits middle-managers who require staff to be physically present to appear in charge. Flexibility is the future of work and clamping down on technological change is not only shortsighted, but bad for staff morale too.

3. Draconian tracking of time

Some managers want to know where you are at all time. Counting heads instead of nurturing productivity. Similar to the telecommuting syndrome, if you have a good Wi-Fi connection and use Skype, Hangouts or Slack, then it’s not necessary to be at your desk from 9-6pm. Nowadays you can work in the staff canteen, break out area, or at the coffeeshop across the road. It’s what works that matters, not where you work.

4. Restricting and refusing vacation requests

There’s no quicker way to lower employee morale than to prevent employees from going on vacation. Managers who aren’t considerate to family holidays and their staff’s private lives will quickly inspire resentment. Obviously not everyone can go on holiday at peak times, but if a manager refuses a holiday request for no good reason, then they won’t be managing that person for very long.

5. Banning social media at work

It may seem crazy in the digital age, but many companies have banned their staff from checking Facebook, Twitter and other social pages at work. According to a recent survey, up to 36 per cent of employers have blocked social media; one in five companies block Facebook, while 15% block Twitter, and nearly 14% have banned YouTube.

Bearing in mind staff will just use their phones if they can’t access Facebook and Twitter on their desktops, it’s not a rule that is likely to succeed. Arguably it’s counter-productive too, as while social media is a distraction, we use socials for research, news and keeping in touch with colleagues, stakeholders, and other important people.

People don’t talk anymore, they talk social and companies need to move with the times. Otherwise they risk losing staff to organisations with more progressive policies.

Bonus: Sartorial clamp down and the banning of hats…

While many startups expect their staff to wear shorts to work. Many corporations still maintain a strict dress code. Some have even banned staff from wearing hats! Dress codes are important at school, but as grown adults it shouldn’t be necessary, especially if your role is not client facing. The bottom line is that you treat people like adults, then they’ll dress like them too.

Want results? Treat people right

If companies want to motivate their employees, then a progressive manager will prevent silly rules from hindering their staff’s performance. One thing is for sure is that banning hats, afternoon coffee or Facebook isn’t going to improve results in the next financial quarter.

What other policies drive you mad at work? Drop us a line today and let us know what office rules need to go into the recycling bin.

About Jörgen Sundberg

Employer Brand Consultant, Speaker & Author. Host of The Employer Branding Podcast.

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