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Workplace Protocols That Really Need to Go in 2023

Workplace Protocols That Really Need to Go in 2023

It’s 2023. Society has changed drastically in recent years, altering many people’s worldviews and making them re-evaluate what matters most to them. It’s time for employers to do the same — including looking at unwanted workplace rules and protocols that are antiquated in today’s world.

Adaptation is a necessary part of growth, one that all creatures in nature must endure to keep up with a changing environment. Those that fail to adjust to the new conditions often perish.

However, you’re in it for the long haul, which means continually re-evaluating workplace trends and adopting those that benefit your company culture. What should you keep in mind? Here are four workplace protocols that really need to go in 2023.

1. Random Drug Testing of All Employees

It’s understandable to drug test for some roles — for example, commercial pilots regularly undergo random testing to ensure their passengers remain safe. However, is this expense really justified for an $18-an-hour administrative position?

Companies have begun waking up to how pointless and needlessly invasive such testing is. It’s also highly ineffective, given the rates that various substances exit the system. An employee could take liquid ecstasy and test clean 12 hours later, and many controlled substances like ketamine, opioids and methamphetamine leave the body in a day or two.

Consider this — alcohol-use disorders grew during the pandemic. Over 15% of all employees report drinking before or during the workday — although this substance is responsible for 65% of workplace accidents. Alcohol exits the body quickly, and only 2% is expelled through urine, meaning most routine drug tests won’t pickup on someone with a problem. That money might be better spent on employee assistance programs.

Mandatory Drug Test Workplace Rules Affect Good Candidates and Employees

Some routine drug testing can be discriminatory, even if it wouldn’t result in lawsuits. For example, many chronic pain patients use cannabis, the metabolites of which linger in the body for up to 30 days, long after any psychoactive effect wears off.

Although more research is needed on this plant, banning people who use it eliminates many otherwise qualified candidates who might otherwise benefit the organization. Consider these comparisons between cannabis and alcohol use:

  • Non-fatal: While people can die from alcohol overdoses, there has never been a confirmed overdose of cannabis.
  • Injury risk: Alcohol plays a role in 21% of injuries, while lifetime cannabis use is not associated with increased ER visits.
  • Violent crime: Alcohol plays a role in 25% to 30% of all violent crimes and increases domestic violence and sexual assault risk, while cannabis has no association with increased violence.

Continuing to blanket test candidates or randomly testing current employees for all positions wastes company resources. Drug tests have an important role for many industries, but determining whether your new work-from-home administrator occasionally enjoys cannabis over alcohol isn’t a wise business expense, especially in 2023.

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2. Blanket “Return to Office” Policies

In the rush to “return to normal,” some companies have begun insisting employees who worked from home during the pandemic reinstate their daily commute. Such measures have met with resistance — and unwanted workplace rules can backfire, depriving you of top talent. Furthermore, they defy the productivity gains that often come with telecommuting. 

One-size-fits-all solutions rarely work. All employees have a right to a safe work environment, which may include telecommuting at least a few days per week. Immunocompromised staff members might feel it’s unnecessarily risky to come in when everyone is sick — others have neurological conditions that sometimes make driving unsafe.

Furthermore, don’t overlook the benefits telecommuting has for an employee’s quality of life. Ditching the commute means more time for family obligations, necessary self-care like exercise and even supplementing their income to keep pace with inflation. It also spares wear and tear on their vehicle.

What Are Your Alternatives?

Fortunately, you have several options to get people back in the office while offering your staff flexibility and freedom of choice. Check out these workplace trends:

  • Consider co-working spaces: Co-working spaces share office space with people from other organizations, often whole other industries. Since you share the space, rent is lower, and there’s less overhead as not everyone comes into the “office” daily. You also benefit from adding new connections to your network.
  • Provide incentives: Consider a travel stipend for employees who choose to commute. For example, you could issue all staff a prepaid gas card for rising fuel costs and partner with a mechanic who provides discounts.
  • Keep it flexible: Even if occasional in-person meetings benefit your team, there’s rarely a need for all hands on deck every day. Let people choose to telecommute when it makes sense for their schedule without it impacting their promotion chances.

3. Buttoned-Up Daily Dress Codes

Perhaps the most infamous of all unwanted workplace rules is the dress code. It’s understandable for customer-facing staff to wear something that indicates their employee status, like a vest. And some professionals, like soldiers, pilots, police officers and medical staff, traditionally wear a uniform or at least scrubs and a lab coat.

Suits and ties also have a place, but do they have to be daily wear? Dry cleaning costs can add up quickly and require another stop in your employee’s busy schedule. A neat pair of trousers, even jeans free from holes, and a button-down polo look tidy enough for daily wear.

Besides, such policies dance along the edge of a discriminatory cliff. For example, although courts have generally allowed employers to assign different dress codes to men versus women, they cannot unduly burden one gender over another, requiring women to wear a certain designer or brand when men have more leeway.

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4. Employees as a Liability on a Balance Sheet

You’re in business to make money, which means paying attention to the bottom line. However, one unwanted workplace trend that needs to go above all others is the idea of your employees as nothing more than liabilities on your balance sheet.

Save such terminology for your accounting team. While it may look like salaries and benefits are nothing but expenses on paper, the reality is that your staff is the lifeblood of your enterprise. You wouldn’t have a business without them.

Remembering The Human Element Is the Hottest Workplace Trend

Everyone is human, including you. If the pandemic drove one lesson home, it’s that life is short and doing something meaningful with your brief existence matters. Your staff members are no longer interested in being cogs in an impersonal machine, logging hours and collecting a check. They crave — and deserve — a healthy work-life balance and the opportunity to make a difference with what they do. Therefore:

  • Communicate: What is it you’re trying to build with your enterprise? Every organization has a purpose beyond making money. Indeed, many employers want their workers to do their jobs for more than “just a paycheck.” What’s your overriding objective? Have you communicated that to all workers, including the importance their contribution has to the greater goal?
  • Compensate: Paying unlivable wages means your employees must take on extra jobs to make ends meet. Do you want them to spread their energy so thin, knowing it will impact their productivity when they clock in for you? If their role is important enough to perform, it should pay enough to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables without a struggle.
  • Appreciate: How do you show employees appreciation for their contributions besides signing their checks? Do you have regular team gatherings where you celebrate each other’s accomplishments? You should if you hope to keep morale high. Letting your staff know they matter is a hot workplace trend you should embrace.

Unwanted Workplace Rules That Need to Go — Trends and Data

The recent pandemic presented the perfect opportunity for humanity to collectively step back and reassess their daily protocols. Business leaders should do the same, re-evaluating their workplace rules with an eye to the latest trends.

These four unwanted workplace rules have no room in 2023. If you want to supercharge your team’s productivity and create a happy, healthy workforce committed to a mutual goal, embrace the above workplace trends.

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