What if, after an arduous search for that one person who is ideal for a position, you find the perfect candidate only to find out that she is eight-and-a-half months pregnant? Letting her simply slip through your company’s fingers would be a big mistake – but what about your company’s paid family leave rules? Would you simply follow the letter of policy or consider bending them in order to seal the deal?
All legalities aside, while enforceable employee policies are necessary for any business, such policies can be bent or even set aside on a case by case basis. Policies such as maternity leave, vacation, bereavement and such can be altered if it is in the best interest of the people involved and for fostering the overall company culture.
In the aforementioned example cited by Michelle Martin in a recent issue of Fast Company Magazine, her company chose to put the person in front of the policy and gave the new employee paid maternity leave. It went a long way to underscore to the new hire of her apparent worth to her new employer and how much they wanted her to be a part of their organization, hopefully for many years to come.
What some companies, regardless of size, fail to understand is that companies are made up of people, not policies. If a company expects to thrive and to retain good people in its ranks then it should treat workers as adults and never be afraid to bend the rules if the situation clearly would be better handled if it
Failure to do so could open up a whole new set of issues that could end your company in court as it did for one company, Walgreens. An employee with diabetes who had worked for the company for 18 years suddenly had an attack of hypoglycemia and her blood sugar went dangerously low. To help stave off the attack, the employee took a bag of potato chips worth 1.39 before she paid for them. She had no time, and attempted to pay for the chips after the incident, but the company had a “zero tolerance policy” toward employee theft. Never mind that the company had been aware for 13 years of her diabetic condition. Even in this case, the company refused to make an exception. Walgreen’s rigidity on the matter ended up costing the company $180,000 in a lawsuit filed by the terminated employee alleging discrimination against someone with a known disability.
Companies with a culture of just sticking to the rules with no exceptions end up costing themselves in the long run. Employees know when they are valued and will not hesitate to look elsewhere for a job if such policies become overbearing.
Being an HR professional can be a challenge for at any company. At NetPEO, we understand that company policies are there to serve as a guideline for the workers within an organization – but exceptions can be made in some instances for the overall good of the company.We can work with you to help make decisions when the rules need to be bent a little for the good of the company.