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5 Terrible Office Policies That Make Your Staff Hate You

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 13, 2015 12:49 PM

You run a tight ship. Your law office is organized, efficient, and effective. To make sure that employees feel that they're treated fairly, you've instituted basic policies instead of arbitrary, ad-hoc procedures. You're doing things right.

Except, of course, when your policies are terrible. Oftentimes, well-intentioned but poorly thought-out office policies can leave your staff fuming. Here are five guaranteed to drive most law firm staff insane.

1. Unnecessary Internet Restrictions

It's very reasonable to keep employees from downloading porn at work or spending all day playing Farmville. But, beware of overreaching. You don't need to ban Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Employees should be allowed to like a friend's status or watch a funny puppy video when there's some downtime.

If their use of social media is interfering with work, you'll know it. Until then, they should be free to have funny online. Perhaps with an entertaining and informative FindLaw blog?

2. Prolific, Expiring Passwords

Congratulations on taking cybersecurity seriously! Many law firms don't, which makes them an easy (and increasingly common) target for hacking. It's smart to require your staff to use multiple passwords, two-step verification, and other cybersecurity measures. Require that those passwords are complex and difficult to break. Make sure they expire every few months. That's just doing your job.

But your employees will hate it. Help make cybersecurity less miserable by springing for a password management program. For a few bucks, you can install software that will keep your employee's passwords secure and complex without being a total pain in their neck.

3. Banning or Restricting Cell Phones

Like the overly strict Internet restrictions, there's really no need to ban or limit personal cell phones. Candy Crush won't be the end of your paralegal's productivity. (If it is, fire him.) Plus, for workers with children, cell phones can be an important way to make sure that the kids made it to daycare in time or showed up for their soccer practice.

4. Freaking Out Over Lateness

If you've ever asked employees to stay late, cut them some slack if they show up 15 minutes tardy a couple of times. There's no need to make a big deal about the occasional lateness. Oftentimes workers arrive late not because they are lazy or disorganized, but because they're subject to forces they can't control -- traffic, children, untrustworthy alarms. Most lawyers will need those employees to stay late, sometimes very late, from time to time, so show them the courtesy of allowing them the occasional flexibility when it comes to clocking in.

5. Competitive Performance Evaluations

Bell curves make sense in law school grading or when pitting associates against each other works when they're competing for lucrative bonuses. But your support staff shouldn't be measured against each other. It creates unnecessary insecurity and competition and is a great way to make employees feel undervalued.

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