It's important for employees to respect the rules that govern employment, but employers must also do their part by having sensible, clear, and updated polices.
What's it cost? A 2011 Cisco survey showed that 70% of employees broke company IT rules. One third said they didn't understand the rules. Another fifth of them said they expected no consequences or rewards for breaking or following the rules.
There are valid reasons behind your rules and policies. Establish respect for them. Here are a few steps you can use to get your employees to conduct themselves "by the book":
1. Clarify the expectations up front. Introduce the rules in the hiring phase. For existing employees, announce rules and consequences in company meetings. Creating a new rule or enforcing an old one, especially one that's been abused for some time, starts with clarity.
2. Establish the rules' relevance. Explain the reasoning behind your rule, and be prepared to back it up statistically or, at least, anecdotally. Show how the rules are not just arbitrary, but help the company maintain its profits and its brand as well as fairness among employees.
3. Mentor employees throughout the process. The more you explain, illustrate, demonstrate, and model compliance with the rules, the more likely employees are to adhere to them. If you just hand them a document with the rules, they will likely apply their own interpretation to which are necessary and which aren't.
4. Reward Compliance. Your policies should cover the consequences for breaking the rules. But you should be equally prepared to reward compliance. Acknowledge an individual's respect for the rules by thanking him or rewarding him. On a grander scale, you could create positive peer compliance by scheduling celebrations for periods without an infraction and providing doughnuts, pizza, etc.
(Hint: Be sure to use the "platinum" rule for #4. Instead of rewarding others as YOU would want to be rewarded, reward others as THEY would want to be rewarded. A gift card to a coffee shop is useless to someone who doesn't drink coffee. And pizza won't be much good to someone who is on a diet. Know what motivates and is appreciated by those you work with. This will help your acknowledgements go much further.)
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Employers should expect employees to follow the rules. Employees should expect that rules and consequences be clear, relevant, and sensible. Employees also deserve to have the rules explained and modeled by their supervisors.
Someone once said... "We have the means to change the laws we find unjust or onerous. We cannot, as citizens, pick and choose the laws we will or will not obey." - Ronald Regan
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