The 3 most-hated workplace rules (and what you can do about them)


In order to ensure that everyone in the company is committed to the common goal of the organisation, it is necessary to codify certain rules. However, not all rules are welcome by the team. Companies can go overboard while drafting their rules in such a way that it not only seems outlandish but also tyrannical. Mandatory rules like wearing heels to work will only tarnish your brand image in the long run. Similarly, restrictions on “illegal beards at work” are just downright racist and insulting.

Here is a list of some of the most-hated rules at the workplace and suggestions about what you can actually do about them.

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Dress code

It is a common belief that the way your employees dress is a reflection of your company’s culture, environment and business standards. However, while writing the rules about acceptable dress codes in your organisation, you must exercise some caution and know where to draw the line. It would be quite overreaching and regressive to let the HR dictate the length of a woman’s skirt or the fitting of a man’s suit.

A lot of companies, including MNCs, have understood the need to revoke policies about stringent dress codes at work. Vodafone lets its employees carry a pair of formals with them in case they need to head out for a meeting. Cognizant lets its employees wear smart casuals to work. In an article published in The Economic Times, SV Nathan, senior director and chief talent officer, Deloitte, India, said, “The current generation of workers looks for options and flexibility. Dress codes need not be imposed as long as employees are smartly dressed, especially for client interactions.”

Restriction on usage of mobile phones and/or internet

Citing security issues, some companies do not allow their employees to use their mobile phones at work. Some even suggest that disruptions due to mobile phones distract employees and affect their work. Internet access is also prohibited or restricted in some companies, thereby cutting them off from important news of the world.

While writing out such policies, avoid any ambiguity whatsoever and cite the reasons why you would advise discretionary mobile phone usage. Ensure that your policy clearly addresses the use of photo or video image capturing and transmitting devices at the workplace. Understand that cutting off your employees from their friends and family will never foster a healthy environment. Allow them to use their mobile phones as and when necessary.

Similarly, allow internet usage with restrictions on certain websites which you believe pose a security threat for your organisation. You might choose to warn an employee who you think is idling away all their time on the phone during working hours. However, ensure that the message is conveyed properly without leading to any unnecessary discord.

Anti-moonlighting policies

Moonlighting means to take up a second job in addition to your primary source of income. Owing to change in living standards and cost of living, it is not uncommon for an employee to want an additional source of income. Although this might interfere with the performance of the employee at their primary job at your organisation, anti-moonlighting policies are unfair.

If you really need to draft a moonlighting policy for your organisation, ensure that you do it ethically without hampering the growth of both the employee as well as the organisation. Ensure that you let your employees feel comfortable about discussing their problems with you. Allow them to continue if you find that the second job does not pose any security threat to your work and does not affect the employee’s productivity as well. Understand what makes them want to take up a second job and how is it affecting them. See if you can help them make things better.

Do you follow any of these practices at your workplaces? If you do, reconsidering them can perhaps improve your image and culture in the long run.