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Establishing Policies.

Create policies for a better work environment.

Here's how.

Establishing Workplace Policies

The employee who reports harassment or discrimination should not be subject to retaliation. Only those involved in the investigation should be made aware of the situation.

As everyone knows, employees are a big factor in making any business a success. Besides picking good ones, you can ensure success by being specific about what is required of them. They should be expected to maintain an acceptable level of attendance, report on time and strive to meet the needs and expectations of co-workers, customers and business representatives.

To help guarantee all this, you need to establish policies that everyone understands and that can be readily enforced.

We can't imagine an office-of two people or thousands-that can operate efficiently without an employee handbook outlining workplace policies, procedures and practices. Just as important, an employee who has a problem with the policies or believes they're not being fairly administered should feel comfortable talking to a supervisor about them.

We've served as consultants for both large and small companies. The best ones have clear policies in place.

The Employee

Equal Opportunities

The company should provide a workplace free of discrimination and harassment based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.


Employees should clearly know their:

  • classification (full-time, part-time, temporary, casual, nonexempt, exempt)
  • paydays
  • overtime
  • deductions (withholding taxes, Social Security, state disability insurance, contributions, savings plan)
  • pay increases
  • hours of work
  • breaks (meal periods and rest periods)
  • paid holidays and vacations
  • benefits and services (health care, insurance, retirement plans, severance, tuition reimbursement, training, cafeteria, credit union, employee center, etc.)
  • leaves of absence (medical disability, pregnancy, long-term disability, family crisis, funeral, jury duty, education, sabbaticals, military/reserve, etc.)
  • attendance requirements
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Performance Evaluations

Supervisors should provide guidance, assistance, resources and training to help employees complete work accurately, safely and by determined deadlines. Everyone benefits from frequent, constructive feedback. Reprimands should be in writing to document problems before imposing serious discipline.

Employees also should understand what it takes to be considered for promotions, transfers and reassignments. Open positions should be posted for all potential candidates to apply.

Conflicts Of Interest

Employees should be expected to avoid situations that involve, give the appearance of involving or have the potential for creating conflicts between their personal interests and the company's interest. This includes work on behalf of a competitor, accepting gifts from a supplier, disclosing confidential information or working a second job that affects work performance or attendance.


An employee should be disciplined for:

  • Falsifying documents or making fraudulent claims for disability or other benefits.
  • Destruction, defacement, theft or unauthorized possession or use of company property or other employees' property.
  • Physically or verbally threatening an employee.
  • Unauthorized possession of firearms, explosives or other weapons.
  • Failure to follow published or common sense security, safety, health or sanitation practices.
  • Dating a subordinate. Keep in mind that a Fortune magazine survey found that seventy-five percent of CEOs questioned felt dating between co-workers was not a problem as long as one didn't report to the other.

“The most important first step is to set the right example. Don't tolerate inappropriate behavior and be vocal about it when you see it.”

The Workplace

Alcohol And Drug Policy

Employees should understand that neither drugs nor alcohol will be tolerated on the job. Period! As a condition for hiring or promotion, some companies conduct drug tests. Others use random testing or administer a test when a manager believes an employee is drunk or drugged on the job.

A test should also be taken if an employee is involved in an accident while operating a vehicle or equipment on company business. Refusal to submit to a test, altering the test sample or testing positive usually leads to termination.

Companies also fire an employee for the unauthorized purchase, sale, transfer or possession of alcohol or drugs (including the abusive use of prescriptive drugs) while on duty or on the company's premises.


All employees must be treated with respect and dignity. Harassment or inappropriate conduct that interferes with an employee's performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment should not be tolerated. It should be reported and result in disciplinary action (see Chapter Thirteen for more detail).

Female supervisors and managers may have a greater opportunity to establish a harassment-free environment. They have access to the resources necessary to enlighten the staff to sexual harassment and the education and skills to deal with situations if they arise. They may also be in a position to develop and support disciplinary policies and procedures to discourage, prevent and punish incidents of harassment.

Here are guidelines for creating and maintaining such an environment:

  • Establish and enforce a strong and fair harassment policy.
  • Have a thorough investigation when charges of harassment are made. Interview everyone involved, including witnesses, and give both sides equal time.
  • The employee who reports harassment or discrimination should not be subject to retaliation. Only those involved in the investigation should be made aware of the situation.
  • A person falsely accused should not have to reestablish his or her reputation alone, and the person who intentionally made the false allegation should be disciplined.
  • When harassers are identified, they should be disciplined.
  • Education and training programs should be provided to promote greater awareness and avoid problems.
  • Supervisors should emphasize the policy through example and re-education programs.
  • Supervisors should always treat female contemporaries as equals in the workplace.

The most important first step is to set the right example. Don't tolerate inappropriate behavior and be vocal about it when you see it. Establish a consistent level of professionalism and make sure that level is maintained among an ever-diversifying work force. Your co-workers will respect you, and, hopefully, your positive influence will encourage others to act similarly.

If you are not in a position to ensure that training programs, policies and disciplinary procedures are in place, question the person who is. Be aggressive in protecting your right to work in an environment that is both professional and efficient.

“I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” Bill Cosby