Here’s a question: if you’re five minutes late getting to the office, would you consider that “on time”? The author of a recent article about differing interpretations of company policies suggests that younger employees would say yes, five minutes late is as good as on time.
Building a Compliance Program for Millenials: Clarity is Key
According to the author, younger employees are also more likely to view a sick day as a rest day or an errand day whereas a more senior employee would tend to believe that a sick day should be used when you’re legitimately sick. The article also talks about the varying interpretation of “business casual” across the generation divide (e.g., are flip flops okay?) and the need to be clear about what’s expected to minimize the surprise and embarrassment factors. She concludes by saying that younger employees often see policies as guidelines, and veteran employees see policies as rules.
This sparked a pretty hot debate in our office and despite the characterizations the author described, it turned out we had some Millennials fall squarely in the “by the book” rules camp while some veterans confessing to the interpretation of a sick day as a mental health day.
We all agreed, however, with the author’s point that clear policies make it easy on everyone at every age. They also make it easy across cultures, across experiences, even across job titles. Good communication – whether it’s emanating from leaders, delivered via employee orientation or codified in company policy — is good business.
We see more and more companies looking for ways to bridge the interpretation gap by dialing down hard-to-understand language in their policies, providing clear definitions of terms and sharing examples of what’s okay and what’s not. They’re increasingly training on their policies to transform words on paper to everyday work experience, and they’re giving managers tools to help them better explain to employees what company policies require.
Companies are finding that as clarity of corporate policy ramps up, varying interpretations of policy scale back – whether it’s an employee’s first day on the job or sometime way beyond the first day.