Get More from your Employees by Following 10 Simple Rules (Communications in Business)

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2. Communication

You need to make sure that your employees understand what is expected of them, not only in the work that they do, but in their behavior and in other areas of your employment relationship. If the rules are carefully selected, clearly related to the business, and fairly enforced, they can help you to better manage your workplace and your workers. Apart from the required rules and policies, you basically have free reign to choose additional rules to help you manage your employees. Once you've taken care of the policies that are required, you can focus on choosing from the many other rules that are optional but that are, in many cases, a good idea to have.

While the rules that govern each employee's conduct must reflect the kind of work your business does and the conditions under which it is performed, there are some basic rules that you'll see over and over again if you ask businesses about their work rules and policies. Employers can choose to have a simple set of work rules made up of a list of generally accepted and prohibited conduct or they may decide to have very detailed work rules and policies addressing specific behavior.

Instead of having a lengthy, involved set of rules, small employers are likely to opt for a simple list of rules and guidelines to make it clear to employees what kind of behavior is expected. You should keep the rules as general as possible, to give yourself as much flexibility as possible in enforcing them.

Your work rules should reflect your individualism as a businessperson and the individuality of your business. You can create a simple one- or two-page handout that you give to each person as you hire them, covering such things as:. Some small business owners may find it appropriate to include more detail regarding other common workplace issues such as solicitation or selling at work, English-only rules, and employees' political and off-duty activities, including moonlighting.

This is intended only as a guideline. All your rules should be reasonable and clearly related to the safe and efficient operation of the business. In general, it's not necessary to say that things like stealing, insubordination, or competing with your business are prohibited. Employees are expected to know these things, although you can create a written rule if you wish. You're the best judge of what works in your workplace. Specifically address insubordination, workplace violence, gambling, arrested or jailed workers, and employee theft in your work rules as needed.

You may decide to explain why you have chosen specific rules for inclusion, and you may even assign a point system to offenses much like a system of demerits. You may also want to explain the consequences and discipline an employee may expect for breaking the rules or for racking up too many demerits.


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However, once again we recommend that you build some flexibility into your system by including a general statement that "any employee found engaging in these behaviors will be subject to disciplinary actions including reprimand, warning, layoff, or dismissal. Keep in mind that in some cases you may be required to post or distribute a written policy to employees, but in most cases the way that you communicate your work rules is your decision. There are pros and cons for both written and verbal communication methods.

Be certain to include a disclaimer saying that the list of work rules is not intended to be an employment contract. The Business Tools contain a sample of general work rules that you can use as a guide in creating your own set of work rules. You may add or subtract from that as needed, but remember to make sure that each rule is reasonable and that each rule is appropriate.

One of the most persuasive reasons for having a set of solid work rules is that they can protect your business. Many employers have rules that protect them from liability — both legal and financial — and give them more freedom in managing and disciplining employees. Having certain work rules and policies in place may be the best way to protect your business from problems such as wrongful discharge claims and discrimination claims. If you have a very small number of employees, however, you may want to avoid having any work rules other than those required by law.

Having no work rules about a given activity will give you more freedom to handle each situation on the basis of its own particular circumstances. If you have very few employees, generally the circumstances of each situation will be sufficiently different that discriminatory treatment or wrongful discharge will not be an issue.


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Only you can be the judge of which way to go on this issue. Even if you are an at-will employer , which gives you great freedom in letting employees go, to avoid legal hassles when you terminate someone you want your reasoning and your actions to be sound and defensible. One way to do this is to have a few basic, clearly stated work rules that have been communicated to your employees. Then, an employee who breaks a work rule does so with the knowledge that the conduct is unacceptable and that such behavior might result in termination.

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An employee who is aware of the existence and purpose of a reasonable work rule, but who chooses to disregard it, will have difficulty challenging any disciplinary action you may take. If you want to have a progressive discipline policy in place, you'll need to explain to employees how it works and which offenses merit which warnings and punishments. Absent a previously communicated policy or rule, it is much easier for an employee to accuse the employer of being arbitrary or even discriminatory.

Your employee, Rachel, uses her business computer for some personal business. You don't have a formal policy on employee use of office equipment for personal business, but you fire Rachel for it because you feel it's cause for dismissal. These meetings are a dynamic, holistic approach to product development where teams come together to reach a common goal. Regular Scrums keep employees accountable to tasks and help them to be more productive.

Many firms make the mistake of holding inefficient, hours-long meetings that accomplish very little. What they fail to realize is that this is an enormous waste of money since you are paying each employee to essentially do nothing , and that meetings can actually be incredibly productive if done correctly.

We encourage our entire team to voice their opinions, challenges, concerns and thoughts as freely as possible on a daily basis. If they need to chat with someone briefly, we want them to talk face-to-face and solve the problem at hand. They should not feel worried about speaking to our CEO openly to get work done, which has made project completion much faster and much more of a group effort. Utilize open documents with communal authorship. Always have a meeting objective.

Share feedback on everything.

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Do it now if it takes less than 2 minutes. Work in four-hour time blocks. Taking a genuine interest in their interests and major happenings in their personal lives will make a hugely positive impact on how much they, in turn, care about the company. You can discover untapped skills and abilities. They can air any unaddressed concerns.

Offer opportunities at work for your people to grow. There are many ways you can tap their potential: coaching, skills workshops, courses, shadowing, mentoring, increasing responsibility. Beyond just professional growth, offer them opportunities to learn new hobbies, pick up exciting skills, and give them time to focus on their passion projects.

Encourage them to step up in their personal and professional lives. Be clear about your expectations of them. Wherever possible, keep people informed about the whole business. They'll want to know about both the good and bad—and particularly about anything that impacts their jobs. Walk the talk.


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If you expect honesty and openness from them, model that in the way you communicate with them first. You're the architect. Communicate a clear vision of where you want to go as a team, and talk about how to get there. You set the overall vision of the company, but you need to empower them to have a personal impact on how the company achieves these goals.

Invite collaboration and participation.