Seven Deadly Sins of HR

HR Departments are essential to ensuring the smooth operations of a company. However, some HR Departments have outdated, unfair and downright terrible rules that disrupt companies and force employees to find employment elsewhere. As an HR professional, it’s important to update rules that are outdated or are harming retention. Here are the Seven Deadly Sins of HR and why these practices should be avoided.


Sick Notes and Sick Time

Some policies make the HR department seem to discourage employees from taking sick time, like outdated policies that require a sick note to get paid time off. Who wants to go into a doctor’s office when you have a cold or flu and know there’s not much they can prescribe you? It’s nonsense.

If your policies discourage employees from taking PTO for sick days, your priorities are backwards. If your employees don’t feel like they can take time off when they’re sick they’ll come in and spread it around the office. Instead, make prevention a priority. Don’t let employees work if they are sick (practice sending them home to rest or offer the option to work from home when sick if they prefer), offer them paid time off to go to the doctor for preventative care, and install better air filters to keep the office air clean.


Social Media Posting Rules and Restrictions

Some policies make it seem as though the company is so desperate for reviews and ratings that they force their own employees to be their social media ambassadors! If your policies force your employees to give a good rating on Glassdoor, rank the company Facebook Page, or write online reviews it could foster resentment and could actually be perceived negatively by your customers. Consumers can see right through this and if you want real, authentic love from customers don’t force your employees to become your make-shift marketing team.

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Employees should review and rate your business online because they want to, not because they have to. If you provide a work environment that they’re proud of, they’ll talk about it. There’s nothing wrong with making the suggestion, the deadly sin if forcing them to do it.


Requiring Death Certificates

Some companies still have outdated rules and restrictions for bereavement pay, which seems like you don’t trust your employees. These policies are outdated and can be quite hurtful to require proof of a loved ones passing during a time of grief.

If you require a death certificate or any type of documentation to allow an employee to take time off or to receive bereavement pay, you should reconsider this policy. Instead, you should be wondering why you’re hiring employees that are so untrustworthy. If you do trust your employees don’t commit one of the Seven Deadly Sins of HR by requiring proof that their grief is real.


Promotion Rules, Raise Caps and Bonuses

Some companies have policies that benefit their bottom line over the benefit of the employees. Although it may seem like in the company’s best interest to pay employees as little as possible, not dish out bonuses and horde all the cash, it’s a fast way to lose good employees to your competitors. Did you know it costs 1.5-2x a yearly salary to replace a strong employee?

Some well-known companies have strict promotion rules and raise caps. I’ve heard stories of people getting huge promotions without pay raises because the rules don’t allow them to be paid over a certain amount until they have a certain tenure. That’s absurd. If you think they can do the work and they are doing the work it doesn’t matter if they’ve been there 10 years or 10 months. In the long run, it’s actually more profitable to pay employees what they deserve – or your competitors will.

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Employee Ranking

Some policies want to take the lazy way out and not rank employee against standard goals or review their performance individually. Instead, they try to cut corners and bulk rank employees! A well-known financial institution puts all their employees into groups and gives each employee a quarterly “grade” based off of their performance compared to other employee’s performance. The kicker? If there’s 5 people in your group you each get a score from 1 (failing) to 5 (excellent) but only one of you can get a 5, one can get a 4 and so on. The employee that gets the score of 1 in each group gets an in-depth profile review and could be fired. Yikes!

Anytime you stack employees against each other and compare you’ll always have a winners and a losers. You build unnecessary competition and tension between staff. Even if all of your employees are top notch, grading employees like they’re in middle school is demeaning and not fair.


Judging Candidates on Appearance

According to a study, attractive women received less interview requests than normal looking woman and attractive men also received the most interview requests if they included a photo. Judging candidates by looks is one of the Seven Deadly Sins of HR because it can filter out qualified candidates, both men and women.

For highly technical roles, the best candidates are the ones with the highest skill level and company culture fit. Many companies use HR or a recruiter as the first set of eyes on candidate resumes and unless they fully understand the nature of the role they might filter out perfectly good candidates. It’s a good practice to have the hiring manager work directly with your HR and recruiting team to make sure they understand the role and can best assist in finding the best qualified candidates.

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Black Out Vacation Dates and “Use it or Lose It”

Some policies see money flying out the door at the thought of their employees taking time off, To discourage employees from taking their earned time off, some polcies will black out vacation dates during holidays for management only then add on a “use it or lose it” policy. This means that if an employee want to take a vacation around holidays, they likely won’t get their request approved. Pair this with employees losing their vacation days on January 1st and you’ll end up with disgruntled employees.

There’s nothing wrong with restricting vacation days – it’s understandable that not everyone can be out during a holiday week. However, if you restrict days then delete any earned days on January 1st, this unfair punishment for hardworking staff. Of all the Seven Deadly Sins of HR, this is the one that discourages employees the most by making them feel like they really aren’t supposed to take vacation. Instead of a use it or lose it policy, pay out your employees at the end of the year for holiday hours accrued or allow them to roll some over.


Seven Deadly Sins of HR
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Elizabeth Becker

Elizabeth is Marketing Manager at PROTECH. Comments and feedback can be directed to her at