Preventing Inconsistent Enforcement of Company Policies

Preventing Inconsistent Enforcement of Company Policies

Written by ComplianceBridge Policies & Procedures Team on September 20, 2021

Inconsistent enforcement of company policies can be extremely frustrating. When punishments are dealt with at random, rewards are handed out on whims, and two employees receive a different reaction to the same behavior, how is one supposed to know what is expected of them? Without consistency, the line between rules and suggestions begins to blur, and hope for a fair working environment goes out the window. Luckily, there are a few steps businesses can take to ensure that the policies they make are enforced fairly.

Steps You Can Take To Prevent Inconsistent Enforcement Of Company Policies

Keep Everything Up To Date

It’s easy to see why a manager wouldn’t enforce an antiquated, useless policy. Keeping policies updated ensures that they are still relevant. If a company is still supposedly following its dress code from the 1950s, you better believe no one is enforcing it. Similarly, if a policy is meant to help the company meet regulatory requirements that have changed, there’s little reason to keep it in effect; when the law changes and policies don’t, those policies may no longer protect the company from legal repercussions. Keeping policies up to date helps ensure that the policy is doing what it’s supposed to — protecting the company and those working for it. 

Another source of inconsistencies stemming from outdated policies is a lack of organization, particularly when it comes to weeding out the old versions. Having multiple variations of the same policy floating around can lead to all sorts of issues. To start, managers could be working off of different versions, leading to inconsistent enforcement of company policies by mistake. Worse, if employees have the wrong version, they could end up blindsided by a policy they thought they understood. Updating policies is step one, but making sure everyone has access to the most current version is just as important.  

Implement Manager/Supervisor Training

It’s challenging to enforce something you don’t understand, but when careers are on the line, you want to make sure that people fully grasp what they are dealing with. Trainings on policies are a great way to ensure managers are aware of every relevant policy, understand them, and are on the same page regarding how to deal with them. This will help management enforce policies consistently, lessening the chance of real or perceived favoritism. 

Training around certain policies may be fairly straightforward, there’s only so much to learn about the dress code, but that isn’t the case across the board. Policies around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), for example, might be more nuanced, requiring a more extensive understanding. These policies are essential for a company to thrive; not only does a focus on DE&I foster a safe working environment (which should be reason enough), but diverse workplaces also have proven benefits from a business perspective. Built In found that diverse companies see 1.4 times more revenue, 2.3 times more cash flow per employee, and are 70% more likely to capture new markets. Thorough trainings around DE&I should help these policies be enforced more consistently, mitigating the concern of discrimination and leading to a more equitable environment. 

Workplace harassment is another area where consistent enforcement of policies is of the utmost importance — people need to feel safe at work, so there can’t be any question on what constitutes acceptable behavior. Accordingly, those policies will also require additional trainings. Managers and supervisors are in a position of power, so they need to be extra careful with how they act, learn to recognize unacceptable behavior, and know what to do if they see or hear about it. How upper management deals with workplace harassment sets the tone for the company culture, and inconsistent enforcement of company policies is a slippery slope to a toxic environment. 

Keep Records Of Enforcement

Not only does inconsistent enforcement of company policies negatively impact the culture, but it also opens the doors for lawsuits against the company. Giving preferential treatment to certain employees, even if it’s accidental, is discriminatory against others, and firing one employee for actions another received a slap on the wrist for could qualify as unlawful termination. If a company wants to avoid lawsuits, discrimination, and a culture of inequity, it should avoid inconsistent enforcement of company policies at all costs. One way to do this is to keep detailed records of policy enforcement. By documenting the action and the reward or punishment that accompanied it, managers can make sure to treat similar actions similarly and catch inconsistencies before they become too problematic.

Understand Your Rights As A Company (And Those Of Your Employees)

Companies don’t have free reign to create any policy they want, but they do have the right to create policies around matters such as ethics, pay, and behavior. And assuming the policies they have are legal, Companies have the right to enforce them. However, they also have an obligation to respect the rights of their employees. One of those rights is equal pay for equal work, and according to The Equal Pay Act (EPA), pay includes more than just a salary. The EPA’s definition of pay covers all forms of compensation, including bonuses, vacation and holiday pay, overtime, gas allowances, benefits, and reimbursements. If the company varies how they handle compensation unfairly, they could be at risk. Not only does inconsistent enforcement of company policies around pay damage morale, it also violates the law. 

Manage Policies Better With ComplianceBridge

Making sure policies are consistently enforced can take a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to with ComplianceBridge. To prevent any inconsistencies stemming from old policies, our clients always have access to the most up-to-date version, which they can find in a centralized location accessible from anywhere in which they can access the web. Employers can also send policies to the exact people they apply to, share assessments to ensure they are fully understood, and even keep records of who has and hasn’t acknowledged them. 

By better managing policies, making sure the right people see them, and ensuring everyone understands their content, inconsistent enforcement of company policies can be a thing of the past. Interested in learning more? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!

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