Employee creativity and individualism can help a business come up with new ideas and to innovate, but they can also cause operational and morale problems. Conforming to a general set of workplace rules builds continuity, avoids misunderstandings, reduces legal problems and creates a sense of team. Understanding how workplace rules and guidelines help you find your place at your job will help you to both avoid looking like a loner and let you shine at the appropriate times.
One of the most obvious examples of conformity in the workplace is a dress code. Businesses set dress codes for a variety of reasons, including presenting a professional look to visiting clients and partners. You'll want to avoid offensive slogans or skimpy outfits, of course, and you wouldn't wear clothing or shoes that might contribute to safety hazards. Check out how people dress if you visit the office during an interview, or ask the human resources person about office who works and what doesn't before your first day. It might be a good idea to dress on the conservative side, at least at first, rather than saying, “Look at me!” with your outfits. It’s easier to loosen up after starting quietly than to tone it down after making a splash people won’t forget.
Why should you have a set schedule if you get your done each day? The answer is simple -- if your boss lets one employee have her own hours, every employee will want her own schedule. Working set hours not only ensures employees work a full day, but it keeps them to together longer, generating more interaction that leads to team-building and discussions that can yield new ideas. When Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer ended the company’s telecommuting policy, many women, especially those championing work-at-home moms, branded her a traitor. She said her goal was not simply to create a rigid standard for everyone to ensure workers put in a full day, but also to increase the coworker interaction that generates innovation.
Few things cause bigger morale problems than the perception of unfair compensation. Even though executives might feel they’ve earned it, perks such as an executive washroom, dining room or parking spaces creates a split between management and staff. Paying two employees who do the same work different pay based on one’s longer seniority might make sense, but still galls the lower-paid worker. For these reasons, many companies offer similar perks and benefits to all employees. In some instances, benefits such as stock options and insurance are regulated by federal law to ensure uniformity and fairness. Some businesses award paid time off by the number of hours employees work, with employees earning bonus time after a certain number of years with the company, rather than awarding discretionary paid time off awards.
To ensure that employees behave fairly toward one another and stay within the bounds of state and federal workplace regulations, your company might create workplace policies and procedures that apply to all employees. These include rules for avoiding and reporting harassment, procedures for requesting time off, an expense reimbursement submission policy, grievance procedures, break-time rules, safety regulations and the use of company equipment.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.