Lenient HR Policies Featured Pattern: P0939 July 2016

Companies hope to encourage productivity by introducing human-resources (HR) policies that offer employees more freedom.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

Companies' implementing lenient policies can create staff loyalty, increase productivity, and ensure quality operations. Although companies usually expect employees to maintain constant productivity at work, a recent University of Nevada, Reno (Reno, Nevada), study found that cyberloafing—employees' using work-provided internet access for personal periods of slacking—costs US business about $85 billion a year. Researchers at Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona) developed software that can regulate cyberloafing rather than simply prevent it. The software classifies websites as always, sometimes, or never acceptable for employees to visit. In use at an agriculture company, the software cut cyberloafing significantly by permitting employees to visit websites unrelated to work in 10-minute intervals for a total of 90 minutes per day. By addressing cyberloafing with leniency rather than banning the activity outright, companies can avoid creating the sense that they do not trust their employees.

Nonprofit organization Coexist Foundation (Washington, DC, and London, England) recently introduced a policy that offers paid menstrual leave to employees suffering from dysmenorrhea. Menstrual leave exists in China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan but remains fairly uncommon in Western countries. The company believes this policy will give female employees greater flexibility, increase productivity, and create a more positive work environment; however, a leave policy for women suffering from dysmenorrhea could introduce practical hurdles and lead to debates about gender equality.

Some companies widen their talent pool by including workers that other companies tend to dismiss. For example, at its Long Island City, New York, plant, clothing manufacturer Brooks Brothers (New York, New York) hires and employs workers who are well into retirement age. Employing these experienced workers costs more than does hiring young workers with minimal experience or outsourcing the work to contractors outside the United States, but the company believes that the benefits its senior employees provide justify the cost. Although machines play an important role in production, some tasks still require human hands, and the company found that experienced tailors work quickly and deliver consistent quality. The company's age-lenient hiring policy supports intergenerational interaction, creates a skilled and flexible workforce, and offers older workers the opportunity to supplement their retirement income.