Here’s what I’d love to know: At what point in time did it become common place for every freaking single person in business to believe that they had to treat all employees in their organization equally in every situation? Here’s the truth. That’s that was made up by lawyers and adopted by HR people as an easy rule of thumb to play it safe against the itty bitty possibility that you’d get your butt sued. Over the years it’s gone from a concept used to protect against gross discrimination of gender and race to a concept used to create policies for everything from bereavement leave to bathroom usage. It’s out of control.
I wrote a post for Fistful of Talent the other day that talked about a very personal experience where I lost my soon to be uncle nine days before he was supposed to marry my aunt. My boss went so far above and beyond that I was floored. My point was that if you have more compassion for what your employees are going through outside of work they’ll pay it back over and over in their loyalty to you.
I believe this whole-heartedly.
No sooner had that post gone live then I got a call from a good HR friend. She told me that she liked the post but that if a company is going to do that for one person they’d have to be prepared to do it for everyone. I wanted to shake her.
Here’s the deal when it comes to equality in the workplace. No decision should ever be made based on race, religion, or gender. It has no relevance to anything business related, is illegal, and just shouldn’t matter.
What is legal, and what I think every organization should do is treat everyone equally different when it comes to understanding and accommodating the issues that pop up in their personal lives. No policy (no matter how vast, wordy, and boring it is) will cover every single situation so don’t bother creating one. Instead, create a culture where managers are encouraged to go above and beyond to help employees manage their personal lives when issues arise. This starts with you at the top and how you treat your direct reports: Show them that extra bit of understanding and they’ll do the same for their employees.
Here’s another tip – it’s okay to base your level of understanding and accommodation on how that employee performs. If they are consistently going above and beyond, working extra hours, and scoring high on performance reviews then it’s okay for you to go above and beyond for them too. If they’re always late, are having performance issues, and just aren’t showing your company much dedication then you don’t have to give them the same privileges. When they come complaining about things being ‘unfair’ tell them that your policy is that employees who are high performers will be accommodated during tough personal times but because they aren’t scoring high on performance reviews they won’t be granted the same privilege.
Okay HR pro’s and business owners weigh in on this one. Do you like the concept or think I’m out of line?