HRDs put worst policies into 'HR Room 101'


fantastic event and good to share common sense and good practice

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Top HR professionals share the people policies they want to see binned forever

What HR policies would you like to see banished forever? To find out HR magazine and BrightHR gathered a group of top HR professionals for a lunchtime session in Manchester, and asked them which policies they would consign to HR Room 101.

Time and attendance policies
Tim Scott, head of people & OD at sexual health charity Brook, put policies that police employee time and attendance too rigidly into Room 101. He described how at one of his former workplaces a machine recorded when people came and left. "You would have a queue of people around the machine at 4.55pm, waiting for it to become 5pm," he said. "It meant people stopped working at 4:30pm to pack up their things and wait for the exact time to leave." Scott was also concerned about the effects on staff morale. "Nothing says 'I trust you' less than making someone clock in and out," he added.

Policing employee time
Paul Harris, co-founder and CMO at BrightHR, agreed that policies that monitor staff too closely should be binned. "Policing your employees just covers for lazy managers and poor leadership," he explained. "You should be finding ways to trust and empower your people, not surround them with policy and regulations to disempower them. They will stop caring if you keep treating them like kids."

Poor employee handbooks
Damiana Casile, people manager at, shared thoughts on the importance of the employee handbook in giving a good first impression to new starters. "A good handbook should make you feel excited to be joining this company," she said. "But often, once you've got past the CEO's warm welcome, you find some weird and wonderful rules." Casile cited examples of handbooks featuring rules on employees lending each other money and receiving gifts from customers. "Just keep them brief, fun, and welcoming!" she advised.

Flexible working
Lisa Leighton, HR director for Hallmark UK and Ireland, argued that some flexible working policies should go. "I don't want to suggest we should all work nine to five; my issue is the kind of flexible working policies that say 'you do 35 hours a week, you arrive at 8:30, you have a break at 11, lunch for one hour at 12, a break in the afternoon, and you leave at 4:30." She said that there needs to be a more trusting employer/employee relationship. "A policy like that undermines your staff's ability to work as adults," she said.

Unequal benefits systems
Derek Wright, head of HR at Advanced Supply Chain, thought that complicated pay and benefits systems that change as tenure increases should be scrapped. He told a story about two employees who turned up at an airport to fly to the same meeting. The senior staff member was flying with a luxury airline while the less senior person was to fly with a budget airline. The junior employee was so unimpressed they left the airport in disgust. "You have to upgrade everyone, or downgrade everyone," he said. "You can't justify anything else in an egalitarian organisation."

Changing policies for major events
Gary Cookson, HR director for Trafford College, said employers should not generate a whole new policy to cover sporting events. "They might say things like 'if you want leave you will need to book it well in advance', or that they will be monitoring sickness more closely over the course of the event," he said, reporting that instead employers should trust their staff to behave appropriately. "Deep down some employers just don't trust their employees to do the right thing."

Bell curves and forced ranking
Jo Radcliffe, group HR director at The Regatta Group, wanted to dispose of bell curve rankings. "If you use that system 85% of your staff need to be less than excellent. Even worse, you have to rate 15% as poor. It is a surefire way to design mediocrity and misery into your teams," Radcliffe said, adding: "If you only allow 15% of your people to be high performers it forces colleagues not to trust their managers and become disengaged."

Restrictive covenants
Alan Price, CEO at Croner Group, said that the worst restrictive covenant he has ever seen was when he was helping a client who ran a hairdressing salon. "In short, their contract warned that they could never work for another hairdresser for the rest of their life," he said. Price recommended that trust and common sense should replace such clauses. "You want to be investing in your people and helping them to grow and share what they have learned," he said.

Dress codes
Inji Duducu, people director of reward and employee services for Morrisons Supermarkets, decided to banish dress codes to Room 101. "We trust our employees with important decisions every day, but some organisations can't even trust that their people will be able to dress themselves properly without a policy," she said. "If your employees can't get dressed properly in the morning then your business has bigger problems than your dress code anyway."

What would you like to see confined to oblivion in Room 101? Share your answers in the comments below, or by using #HRRoom101 on Twitter! And watch out for our video series of the Room 101 policies from next week.


fantastic event and good to share common sense and good practice


One of my employers had this poor policy of blocking all external emails/access during notice period. This was plain mistrust to me but it also hampered work since the job involved regular communication with external agencies. Such mistrust is painful since it leaves employees with bad memories in case they might consider rejoining the employer. Employers need to treat exiting employees better.

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