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The Peculiarities Of Policy

I have been thinking about “Policy” as of late -- in particular, about the question I hear increasingly asked: “Do we have a policy for that?”

More concretely, I am thinking about common sense; in particular, at what point in our development as a nation did we decide the need to legislate common sense in the workplace?

I am increasingly bothered by the preponderance of and desire for “policy” documents that simply spell out that which the majority of common-sense observing employees already follow.

Policy such as this sets boundaries that not only limit individual freedom, but also can hinder individual creativity. And, more often than not, such policy fails in “enforcing” common-sense behavior on those limited numbers of outliers for whom the policy is actually intended.

Creation of such policy also may come at the expense of morale and damage the contract of trust between employer and employee.

So here is my Utopia: places of employment that create one umbrella policy -- use common sense and good judgment. The law that governs us all should take care of the rest.

And, just like that, here is the abrupt end of my Utopia: For the law that governs us all, more often than not, has very little room for common sense. And I understand that a good deal of policy is less about the actual policy and more about the possibility of a lawsuit resulting from the absence of a policy that decreases the possibility of liability.

My heart tells me a tempered version of my Utopia may yet be possible, but common sense tells me we may need to draft a policy first.

I am Michael Perry, and that’s my perspective.

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