The Unicorn HRO Blog

10 HR Policies to abolish in 2016

Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2016 by Unicorn HRO

What better way to start the New Year than by overhauling your outdated HR policies? Below are a list of some of the most common policies which have proven to be unsuccessful by many organizations.


  1. Comparison Based Performance Reviews

Performance reviews based on ranking or comparison of one worker to another does not improve work by creating healthy competition, as was originally intended by this policy. A good workforce should be comprised of employees who have different strengths and weaknesses, making comparison between workers almost impossible. Managers should focus on carrying out individualized performance reviews, comparing a worker’s current performance to previous years, in order to determine if improvements have been made. Rather than focusing on talents they do not have, this approach allows managers to find ways to apply a worker’s skills within the department and gives them the opportunity to create a personalized training plan for each employee.

  1. Restricted Movement Within The Company

There can sometimes come a point in an employee’s career when they feel that they have reached their highest potential in a role or department, a time in which their long term career goals change and when they decide that a change in role is necessary. Organizations who limit the mobility of employees within an organization by only allowing employees to apply for internal roles with a manager’s approval, runs the risk of losing skilled workers to their competitors.  Instead, HR managers can implement policies which maintains confidentiality in the internal recruitment process, allowing employees to apply for internal positions without consultation with their supervisors, a method which can greatly improve employee retention.

  1. Policies – Death Certificate Requirements

The required documentation for proof of absence in areas such as illness and disability can be necessary for employees to receive protections under federal laws surrounding allowed absence and pay. However, companies should be cautious about how they extend this ‘proof of absence’ to other areas. Requesting proof of attendance to a funeral, due to the death of a loved one, communicates mistrust to employees during a very sensitive time. Organizations which withdraw this policy communicate trust, respect, and a caring attitude towards their workers.

  1. Proof of Illness

Similar to proof of death, organizations which dissolve policies requiring a doctor’s note for every illness- related absence, also communicate trust in their workers. Being that not all absences due to illness require a doctor’s visit, employees cannot always adhere to this policy. Moreover, employers must be careful with the legal ramifications associated with requesting doctor’s notes. For short term absences which are not being applied to FMLA, notes should be restricted to name of employee, the date seen by a doctor and should not include any personal health information such as specific diagnosis. Such information may violate employee protections under the American Disability Act.

  1. Salaried Versus Hourly

Managers who come to expect salaried employees to work late without offering overtime pay, may find their employers overworked, unmotivated, and exhausted. Instead, implement a policy in which a late stay can equal a late start the next day.

  1. Automated Recruitment

Although applicant tracking systems can improve efficiency by matching keywords in job descriptions with applications, it fails to miss other important skills, experiences, and unique attributes that a worker can bring to the role. Instead, HR departments may consider adding a human element to the process, by adding a manual review of promising applications during the hiring process.

  1. Negative Reinforcement

There are several organizations which have spent a lot of time and effort implementing policies which focus on finding and punishing negative work behavior; from the installation of video cameras, to keystroke tracking software. Evidence shows that these approaches do little to improve employee performance. It has been found that identifying when employees do something well, and rewarding such behavior, is a much more effective way to improve productivity.

  1. Tracking Versus Spying

Depending on the industry, it may be necessary to track employee phone calls or emails (i.e Customer Service and Complaint Departments). However, employers should ensure that they are only tracking workers when it is needed. Tracking which serves no business purpose can be considered a form of spying, which communicates a lack of trust, which can be great de-motivator for the workforce.

  1. References

There has a been a recent trend in which organizations are stopping managers from writing references for employees for fear of future reprisal, including lawsuits if the recommendations turn out to be incorrect. While there is always a possibility of this happening, this policy, for the most part, does nothing more than fail to support hard working employees, while also failing to trust managers to be objective and accurate in there references. No employee wants to work for a company long-term only to find out that their employer will not communicate their good performance to future employers.

  1. Termination Rules

HR departments understand the time and cost involved in hiring a worker. As a result, careful consideration is taken to ensure that workers are a good match and a long-term hire. Terminating workers should therefore be a last resort, and rather than applying a “three strike and out” rule, time should be taken to help workers to identify and rectify any performance based issues.

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