Workplace Best and Worst: Bad Policy

Last week we talked about the necessity of company policies and their sometimes conflicting effect of making life difficult for employees.

As I noted, every organization that I've ever seen has a series of rules that can only make you wonder if there is an entire team of people who only exist to drive everyone else crazy. We heard some crazy ones, and here are the best answers to last week's question: What is the dumbest, worst and/or most annoying company policy you've ever seen?

      "My boss had us all sign a paper saying we were supposed to keep working in the dark if the power went out. This is in a high-tech company building with no windows and lots of dangerous gases."

      "I worked for a small semiconductor company in the early 1990s. The senior management at the company was so paranoid that someone was going to steal the company secrets that they outlawed personal computers for use inside the company because someone might make a copy of some sensitive file on a floppy disk drive and take it outside the company walls. Ironically, this company sold into very low-margin markets with less than leading edge technology or products. This policy made the day-to-day business activity much more cumbersome by being limited to antiquated 10-year-old technology to conduct company business -- for a technology company. The planning group I led at the time spent at least an additional 50 percent of their effort working around this outdated technology."

      "Fully refundable within 30 days of Purchase…Please allow four to six weeks for delivery."

      "No facial hair can be grown on company time."

      "Rental car expense will be denied and expense reports returned to the originator if the rental car receipt shows the car was used for less than 50 miles." [As a result, employees either circle the airport, or overstate the return mileage to the rental agency].

      "If a customer asks for a bathroom, do not let him or her use it or admit to having one even if the customer sees the employee bathroom sign and is in dire need to relieve themselves."

      "Not allowing to quote prices over the phone."

      "Only having one water fountain for an entire warehouse."

      "Never supplying hand soap to the employees."

      "The fetus protection policy in Texas that required all females in a chemical compound plant to be sterilized in order to keep their jobs."

      "When working from home and telephone lines are down, please call and inform division chief."

Workplace Best & Worst is a Wednesday feature at Each week we'll ask a question -- What is the worst workplace prank? What is the best advice? Who was your worst boss? And then in week two we'll run the best responses.

Bob Rosneris a best-selling author, award-winning journalist, popular speaker and a guy who has chafed at and created some really dumb policies during the course of his management career.