Common Sense or Rule of Law

Before I left this morning to conduct a breakout session at the North Central Florida SHRM chapter’s expo, I saw a news piece on the television in which a young girl was sent home from school because she violated a school dress code requirement that forbid the wearing a bandana to hold her hair back under her jacket., hoods etc. to school. The weather outside was in the twenties and she wore a jacket with a hood to shield her from the cold.

So let me turn the scenario around and ask you whether this could apply to your organization. Whether they are current or not every one of our organizations have a set of rules and procedures to govern the behavior of our employees in the workplace. We are not questioning the importance of their presence. We are asking whether we are so ingrained in their implementation that we fail to use common sense in the way we apply them to the workplace. Are we so set in our ways that we present the appearance that we have a zero tolerance for digressions from the procedures even when the  employee has a valid basis for the actions they took?

While as an HR professional I am not in favor of a wide open range of options, I am also aware that only under certain circumstances does the way an employee dresses have any direct impact on whether they are able to complete the bona-fide duties of their position. I would suggest that we as human capital managers need to begin to consider whether our rules and regulations so set in stone that we can’t  allow for some common sense flexibility in the workplace.Our first responsibility to our organizations should be to create an atmosphere that recognizes the worth of each of our human capital assets. This sense of worth may not be indicated by the way they dress in the workplace.

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