How to Have a Flexible Workforce and Still Get The Job Done

It’s easy to become enamored with the cachet of Silicon Valley companies and wonder if you can replicate their way of life and fun company cultures. But what if napping rooms and yoga coaches aren’t a fit for your business?

I received this email from a HR manager at a company facing just such a dilemma:

Currently there is a disconnect between all managers on how they manage their employees and apply benefits, handle performance evaluations, and bend the rules. Even though we do have a written handbook with outlined policies and procedures, these are regularly bent or broken. I’m concerned that we are not only creating animosity within our organization but also leaving ourselves open for potential legal liability. Our CEO has been awed and inspired by recent articles from some of the top creative companies that employ this type of work style successfully. However the reality of our situation is that over 50 percent of our work force is based in manufacturing. The freer model may work well for companies in Silicon Valley, but it doesn’t seem to fit into our blue-collar midwestern culture. Everything I have learned in HR is centered around consistency and documentation. Can you please guide me as to whether or not this still holds true, and if so, why consistency is still important? Or is this train of thought rooted in the past and the movement forward is to a more relaxed view of consistently applying policies, procedures, and guidelines throughout our organization?

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One thought on “How to Have a Flexible Workforce and Still Get The Job Done

  1. I sure hope this letter writer is not typical of all HR professionals, nor his report of what HR professionals are taught.

    He does not seem to realize that it simply is not *possible*, legally or practically to have identical policies for all people. After all, the law *requires* certain accommodations for various groups, and responding that you can’t do it because HR policies require consistency will get you to the wrong end of a law suite. And do you REALLY have a the same dress code for both manufacturing floor and office staff?

    Consistency is not about having the same exact rules regardless of the circumstances. It’s about having rules appropriate to the circumstances that are applied in a consistent manner.

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