Stupid Workplace Rules Can Hurt Your BusinessStupid workplace rules—those senseless bureaucratic policies and red tape common to many organizations—are a hassle for everyone involved.

Managers don’t like having to enforce stupid workplace rules.

Employees resent having to obey them.

While some policies are non-negotiable, particularly those relating to workplace safety, it’s worth thinking about those rules that complicate the workplace, rather than enhance it.

In an article for Open Forum, contributor Bruna Martinuzzi asks, “What can you do to make sense of workplace rules? What are some rules that you should consider and what rules do you need to discard?”

Here are some suggestions:

Implement a BYOD Policy

A recent Tech Republic survey shows 38 percent of companies lack a viable Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. But as employees increasingly carry with them a variety of mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and personal laptops, many employers are considering how to integrate them into the company’s systems.

“Doing so can create potential security risks,” Martinuzzi notes, but on the other hand, a blanket BYOD prohibition seems like “a particularly punitive policy that is sure to irk a lot of employees."

One option: Institute a policy “to plug any security holes” while permitting employees to use their own devices, as needed.

Don’t Try to Save Money at the Cost of Alienating Your Workforce

One policy that breeds resentment is the practice of taking back frequent flyer miles employees earn while they travel on company business. This is one of the more stupid workplace rules that's bubbled up in recent years.

Yes, the company pays for the airline ticket but, Martinuzzi says, “consider the wear and tear on health” that comes from long hours of travel, eating bad airport food, disruptions in sleep patterns, and time away from one’s family.

You may help your bottom line by making a grab at those miles, but you're essentially taking away benefits from some of your hardest-working team members.

“This is part of the unspoken loyalty of employees to their jobs. Responding by taking away airline loyalty rewards is not a fair exchange.”

Expand Your Outlook on Leave

Conditions vary among companies regarding leave policy, but Martinuzzi offers examples of what some successful firms are doing in this area.

One small business called Tastefully Simple sponsors numerous wellness initiatives, including a “Hooky Day” and a paid holiday for team members' birthday.

At Hubspot, the three-word policy for sick days is “Use good judgment.” That phrase also drives the company's business conduct and ethics code. What it comes down to is treating your team members like adults. Expecting them to be able to, at times, balance “favoring your team over yourself” and understanding that “acting in our customers’ interest is our long-term interest, too."

Of course, it's also important to make it clear to your employees that coming in to work sick and infecting others is no benefit to the team.

Similarly, it's wise to have either workplace rules or a company culture that encourages people to take vacations. Some companies are even going so far as to force employees take accrued time. The fact is, people who refuse to take their time off not only burn themselves out, they make other employees feel guilty about taking the time to which they are entitled.

Have Workplace Rules that Encourage Open Exchanges on Social Media

Many businesses have policies “that muzzle critiques of the company on social media,” but in the age of Twitter it can be both difficult and stifling to enforce such policies. Consider taking a different approach. Nokia, for example, has created online platforms where employees can express themselves on everything from executive decisions to software inefficiencies—discussing problems and solutions that will help the company improve in the end.

“Business executives need to be prepared to handle more and more open reactions from staff,” Martinuzzi says. Look for ways to permit your employees to “speak up for the good of the company.”

Some workplace rules were put in place to address specific issues. If those issues are no longer a problem, eliminating the rules gives your company (and your hard-working employees) more room to breathe.

What workplace rules could you eliminate today?

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