The Dreaded Employee Manual

Warning – Rant Included Below – Not a Happy Post – Pour a Cocktail

custom_book_cover_11932So I have been spending a LOT of time lately working on employee manuals. As part of my current COO role, this falls under my domain. Lucky me.

While very time consuming (much more than I would have guessed), I also find it pretty interesting. See, I am actually combining two manuals into one, which makes the whole adventure that much more fun. One of the manuals is from our large, outsourced HR provider and the other is the legacy one from our company. So in short, one is VERY “PC” and the other, while very practical, not so much on the PC side. What is more fun is that I was one of the original authors of the legacy manual, so there’s some history there. I’m the one that has to call my baby ugly (if you’ve heard that phrase before).

I share that background not to bore you with my “homework” as of late – but just to give you some perspective on where some of the commentary that follows comes from.



So now begins my rant…

WTF!? Do we really need a rule, guideline, measurement, State law, or other type of employee manual entry for EVERY possibility!? OMG I’m going to die.

If lawyers and insurance companies didn’t exist, then the company employee manual could/should look something like this:

  • Chapter 1 – Welcome to the Company
  • Chapter 2 – You Will Work
  • Chapter 3 – We Will Pay You
  • Chapter 4 – Can’t we just get along?

That about covers it. Work – Get Paid – Play Nice. Right? Guess again.

I’m not going to cite or comment on all entries from our soon-to-be new manual, but some of it is hard for me to pass up.   I’ll do my best to keep my comments suitable for the work environment, in case you are viewing it there, which actually may be a violation of their electronic communication policy, as I have come to learn.  🙂

  • Do we really need an entry that has anything to do with lactation breaks? Isn’t it just common decency to allow for this, hopefully in a private setting? A kid’s gotta eat right?
  • Just for my corrupt State of Illinois (I can say that, I was born and raised and still live here) I had to make seven (count ‘em – 7) entries that all were related to “leave” of some sort.   Family leave – Voting leave – School Visitation leave (really!?) – Jury Duty leave. Does anyone actually work in IL or are we all just on “leave”?   Again – most of this should be common sense, just in my opinion.
  • According to the State of Massachusetts, you have to have worked least 1,250 hours in the preceding 12 months in order to go to a parent-teacher conference. That’s pretty harsh – come on guys.
  • Good Lord don’t get me started. So I don’t waste too much of your time, just know that I added 13 pages (yes, thirteen) to my employee manual just to accommodate that lovely State. It’s really unbelievable.
  • Electronic Communication Policies – love these. How about just “don’t look at porn” and “don’t click on the thingy that is going to give you a virus”? I know – that’s not realistic – but I had to include that one.


Most of the rest of the Employee Manual doesn’t offend me, to be honest. Actually, none of it really offends me – it just makes me crazy that we need it. But that’s the optimist in me – believing we can all get along, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya together around the campfire.

So next time you review your employee manual, do so knowing that someone like me took great care to make sure that all (that we know of) situations were accommodated.

Employers aren’t all evil – and neither are employees. Most people talk about the 80/20 rule – so in this case the theory would be that 20% of the people are responsible for 80% of the specific cases in the manual. I don’t think that’s true here. I’ll call it the 99/1 rule. I really believe that there are a VERY small percentage of people that aren’t reasonable and force employers to come up with all these silly rules.

If you are part of that 1%, please don’t flame me – it makes me sad. 🙂

Thanks for reading…



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