Recently, I listened to an NPR news report on bizarre workplace policies.  The story (2015) developed out of a New York Times article on Amazon and the organizational culture which appears to be one of persistent workplace aggression.  NPR reports that some of the bizarre policies consisted of mandating what kind of laundry soap employees used, footwear that was allowed, and the use of cologne or perfume.  All of these are policies are an attempt to regulate the workplace environment, but what impact do they have on the workplace?

Before I get started, I do want to acknowledge that people are in fact impacted by smells and scents which can cause healthy issues.  I am not negating that these things are real and should not be addressed in the workplace.  I am going to assess how these policies are developed and implemented.

There are certainly times when a supervisor or leader of the organization needs put into place policies and/or procedures.  But as a general rule, policies and procedures that can be mutually discussed, created, and implemented tend to have better results than those that are mandated from the top down and then enforced heavy handedly.  

If a policy is needed in an effort to maintain someone’s health or a code of dress, it is beneficial for leaders and supervisors to gather input from their workers about the policy development including what modifications the workers need to make and what adjustments the organization is willing to do.  Leaders need to take the input from their workers into consideration.  It is very likely that their involvement will improve the policy and the implementation process.  It is of the utmost important that employee contributions are seriously considered and that these efforts are not merely for show.

In the case of the laundry soap, a meeting to discuss this with employees might offer suggestions to expand the policy.  For example, workers might suggest that the organization supply air filters and cleaners in conjunction with requesting workers to change their laundry soap.  Or, the organization could supply an incentive program or even provide workers with a month supply of the soap to start with. 

This really demonstrates for workers that the organization is committed to all workers and improving the overall environment.  It is not just dictating a change that the workers must abide by.  It is a more collaborative process.

Education about a new policy should be provided.  This demonstrates and reinforces respect for employees.  Most of us are willing to accept and follow a policy as long as we are aware of the rationale for it.  We might be reluctant but most of us are prepared to change our behavior especially if we know it might be impacting a colleague’s health.   

The workplace culture is an opportunity for cooperation to for both personal and organizational self-reflection.  Both are essential for managing the workplace, for growth, and creativity to occur.  Despite popular belief, workers who feel valued and heard make better employees.  They are vested in organization and with that vestment comes loyalty, harder work, and overall a better worker.  

Persistent workplace aggression, on the other hand, stifles workers because they are being psychologically abused by their colleagues.  Targets are on edge and a large majority of time of their valuable is spent trying to combat the aggression rather than on productivity.  Organizations are the real losers when it comes to this kind of behavior.  Not only do they great workers leave but these workers take with them their ideas.  Organizations ultimately lose money.  So the CEO of Amazon may be under the assumption that he hasn’t really lost anything, but the real reality is that he has.  Former workers have taken their ideas and creativity and most likely have made other companies money.   Employees deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.   For myself, I am really re-evaluating my loyalty to Amazon.   

For more information, please contact me at or 320-309-2360


(2015). Bizarre Workplace Policies [Radio series episode]. In Morning Edition. Kansas City: David Greene.



The policies should be unique and make under the current environment. Sometimes, you see that people did not make policies to the current environment and future you did not know what will be. So, policies should be made for the current environment.

10/20/2017 3:40am

Policies are in place so that it can address issues that are everyone's concern. If the management needs to create new policies or update the one's that are already there, they should first see if the problem that the policy is targeting is actually something everyone is concerned of. The problem or potential risks that the policies should target should be relevant to both the company and the employee's productivity.Policies should not be imposed just to address specific concerns that might not actually affect everyone in the company.

10/03/2017 7:09am

Every workplace has its own list of policies to be followed. If you are under a certain company or an organization, you will know that these rules are existing because it serve as guides to follow. It keeps everything in order, and everyone is expected to act under these policies. It is important and just right because these keep all of us disciplined the right way! However, you can still live out your opinion if you think that there is something to be changed in the policies.


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