Most employees who work for you are intelligent adults. If your employee handbook or HR policy manual is large and prescriptive, consider the following:

Don’t play “gotcha” — make positive assumptions about employees

Attorneys may recommend codifying company rules in a series of “thou shalt nots” and then making employees sign a statement confirming that they’ve read the handbook. If employees violate rules and then claim ignorance, companies can then say, “Gotcha! You signed that you’d read our policy, so you did know.” This approach relays negative assumptions from day one.

Creating an environment of mutual trust is much easier than trying to run an authoritarian regime free of rule breakers. And there are some situations where making something a “rule” can really backfire.

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