Limits and Flexibility

Recently, I’ve been helping to put together a Human Resource Manual. In working on this, I’ve been struggling between wanting to inject a strong sense that the organization values employees, wants to work with employees and wants to welcome employees as human beings. At the same time, anything we put in writing is also part of a legally binding contract, and therefore there is the need to define limits…to describe what the official position is, not just what the intentions are.

The struggle here between an officially binding document and one that reflects the somewhat squishier ideals is a tough one. How does one say “take off the time you need to deal with your grief, but when you are asking to take off a week because you’re devastated by the death of your neighbor’s dog, you’re abusing the system”? Even when we talk about things such as taking time off for religious observance, how do you ensure that people who request that time are doing so for religious observance and not just for a day off? Who am I to differentiate between valid pagan holidays and an attempt to game the system by taking off groundhog’s day?

There’s no easy answer to this. Where we’ve ended up (and this handbook has not  been looked at by the attorney yet) is by doing two things. First, we state our intention or goal, and then we describe the  bare minimum of rights we are guaranteeing. I’m not sure how I feel about this as a compromise position, but it feels like it might be workable…at least for the moment.

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One Response to “Limits and Flexibility”

  1. Jonathan Kominsky Says:

    This smells suspiciously like Reed’s Honor Principle and the various situations attached to it. The question becomes, I suppose, whether you trust your hiring practices enough (and your hires) to implement something like the Honor Principle in a business environment. You could beat the whole problem by only hiring Reedies and Reed alums, I suppose, but that would narrow down your pool of potential employees rather severely.

    Oh, and I guess attorneys probably don’t feel comfortable with the honor principle. Well, good luck!


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