Understanding the “Why” in your HR policies Replayed

by Michael Haberman on September 4, 2018 · 0 comments


I thought this replay would be a good one. 


Why
My granddaughter has been in town for the holidays. Since she had to take a few extra days off from school to make the trip, she had to bring homework. We were sitting at Starbucks and she was doing her math homework. I was not sitting at the same table thus I had the opportunity to observe as she and my wife worked on the homework. My wife was a math major in college but learned in a much different way than is being taught today. Sitting at the table next to them was a man, in his late 20s I would guess, who was watching and listening to them work. It turns out he was a math teacher and I could tell he wanted to help. Finally, he could not resist anymore and asked what grade my granddaughter was in. I said to my wife “You have a math teacher sitting here willing to help, why not ask him” as it was obvious they had reached an impasse at understanding how a problem was to be done. The teacher said “When we were learning math in school we just learned the answers and remembered them. Today in math it is no longer acceptable to just go on rote memory, they want kids to know “why”  2 + 2 equals 4. Just knowing the answer is no longer good enough.”

Application to HR

I thought about his statement. Just knowing the answer is no longer good enough you have to know the “why” also. I thought about company policies. I thought about employee handbooks. I thought about the fact that often we teach policies and expect policies to be learned in much the same way I learned math. You only have to know the right answer, not the “why” the answer is the way it is.

Is this the way it is at your company? Have you ever taken the time to explain to employees the “why” of a policy? Have your ever taken the time to explain the impact of not following the policy or procedure will have on your organization? Or do you expect your employees to just memorize the policy and then adhere to it with no explanation?

We all have sexual harassment policies but have you always taken the time to explain why? Have you explained the consequences to not only the employee but also to the company?

For that matter do you understand the “why” on all your policies? I worked for a company once that had a policy against shooting projectiles in the plant. I thought that rather odd, so I asked why we had that policy. It turns out that in the early days the guys working at night would set up archery targets in order to practice for bow hunting season. How is that for a “why’?


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