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Annie Hayes

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HR Tip: Making rules work

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Q: Our employees have little respect for company rules. What can we do?

A: You should first check that your rules are relevant and necessary, and that they are easy to understand. If not, write a more meaningful set in clear English and in any other language that your employees use. Make sure also that the rules are explained to new employees, and that they understand them by, for example, testing them after a few days.

You may have to make special arrangements for people who cannot learn in this way. However if your employees do not respect rather than do not understand the rules, get them together and explain why they are important and therefore why they must be observed. To give rules more impact explain them by using the first rather than the third person of speech. Say “we do not allow smoking on the premises” or “I won’t have smoking in my section” rather than “smoking is forbidden” or “the rules forbid smoking”.

This personalises the rules, gives them ownership – and is a powerful technique. From then on take action against anyone who breaks a rule. Start with a bit of counselling to explain the problem. If that fails give an informal warning and if necessary carry on with more formal measures. Your managers may need training to understand and apply the rules consistently.

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Annie Hayes

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