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Investing For The Future
Managing Your Business
Assume your company currently has four employees and you have
decided to add one more to handle the increase in sales, a great
"problem" to have. You made an offer that was accepted and he
You meet with your new employee to do the orientation, so you
launch into a description of his role, your typical work day,
etc. You escort him to his work station, introduce him to his
co-workers, give him the system password and part by letting him
know you are available to answer any questions and that your
"door is always open." You let him know how pleased you are to
have him on board.
His first week is a good one. He learns your customer service
system quickly and even makes a couple of time-saving
suggestions. He is fitting in and working really well.
During his second week, the new hire and another of your employees go
to lunch and have a "shop talk." "Nuts and bolts" topics are
discussed--like "paid vacation time-off." Your longer-term
employee tells your new hire that she is getting three weeks of
paid vacation per year and is taking a week off next month to go
on a cruise. Pay increases were also discussed and your
longer-term employee tells your new hire that she got a raise
at the end of her six-month probationary period.
Walking back to the office, your new hire was deep in
thought--"What probationary period? I don't remember it being
mentioned --hum. . ."Your new hire takes advantage of your
open- door policy and asks if you have a minute. You start the
conversation by saying, "You are really doing a great job. I
want you to know how pleased I am. What can I do for you?" Your
new hire asks: "Am I on probation?" You respond: "Oh, that 'Technically' all newly-hired people are considered
probationary." He asks you: "What do I have to do to pass
probation?" and you respond, "Just keep doing the good work
you're doing for six months." He queries you further: "And
you'll let me know ASAP if I'm not?" and you say, "Absolutely."
He asks, "Once I complete the probationary period, does anything
else change?" and you sheepishly reply "Oh yes, I forgot. At
that time I will review your pay to determine if we need to make
It is unlikely this exact sequence of events has ever
happened with your people but it illustrates the point.
Why have HR Policies? REASON #1 - Your people need to
know the rules. They will have questions about either
what you told them and they forgot or what you forgot to
tell them altogether. The best way to make sure your people
have the information they need about the employment
relationship is to have written HR policies that you give
The conversation above continues. "One more thing," he says. "I
don't recall discussing the paid vacation policy. If you shared
this with me during our interview, please forgive my
forgetfulness." You reply, "You will receive two weeks of paid
vacation after you have completed one year with us." Without
another word, he walks out of your office muttering, "Two weeks
after a year????"
REASON #2 - You owe it to your people to maintain
reasonable consistency in how you treat them when it
comes to "standard" policy issues like paid time-off.
After the exchanges above, how motivated do you think the new
hire was to continue excelling? Here are two scenarios to
In accordance with your HR policy that spells out your right
to review all files (hard copy and electronic), you come in
Saturday afternoon when no one is in the office and start
looking through his e-mails and Internet cookies to see what
he's been doing. What you find appalls you. Not only is he
spending your time doing a job search, but you also find he sent a
copy of your confidential customer list (including annual
revenue totals for each customer) to one of the companies to
which he has applied for work.
That is it. Monday morning he is gone. You call him into your
office and fire him for falsification of information,
unauthorized disclosure of business secrets, unsatisfactory
performance/conduct, and misuse of company
FOR BOTH SCENARIOS, he files for unemployment and is
denied benefits because of the good job you did in
following your "reasonable" HR policies.
REASON #3 - It is much easier to take a negative
employment action if your HR policies are written,
reasonable, distributed to your employees, and you
consistently follow them. While there is no guarantee
that a terminated employee won't file some form of
complaint or action, you are in much better shape with HR
policies than without in defending your decision and
What Are the Basic HR Policies that Should Be Included in
a Policy Manual?
Examples of all of these HR policies (and agreements that
should be signed as part of the employment process) are provided
for your use in Chapter 2.
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