"My friend was one to show up a half hour early before work and was a commission based salesman with salary, just like the other salesmen, who would always show up barely on time or hours late. On one specific Friday night, management decided to hold a meeting to announce the new policy: if you're late, you go home for the day, and if you're late three days a month, you're fired.
The weekend went by and everyone was on time. During the week, a few people called out sick right as the store opened. The weekend was coming up and my buddy was scheduled for Saturday, but not Sunday or Monday, and he had planned a trip to Disney Land with his wife, who had Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off. Friday night, he packed his wife's car.
Saturday came along and he was in the parking lot a half hour early. He popped in his favorite cassette, fired up a joint, and proceeded to hotbox his car. He walked in five minutes late reeking of pot, looked at the clock, and then turned to his boss in front of the whole sales floor, and loudly said, 'Oops! I'm late, guess I need to go home!' with a crap-eating grin on his face.
The bosses started backpedaling the policy, claiming it wasn't for him so they'd let it slide. He loudly stated that it wouldn't be fair if they made an exception for him and that he would see them on Tuesday. When he got back to work on Tuesday, the policy was gone.
Years later, the same company hired some absolute genius of an accountant who sold the idea to management that their employees were making more than them, and that they should go from commission to salary. All the top salesmen jumped ship ASAP. The remaining bottom feeders got a raise compared to their normal salary and commission, and they didn't have to do crap all day to get it. Less than a year later, they closed down for good."
"Last October, my office decided to implement a 'smoke-free workplace,' as in no one was allowed to smoke outside on company grounds anymore. We previously had designated covered smoking areas outside that were moved away out from the entrance, which was really no big deal. But they closed those and made smoking off limits.
However, you're not going to be able to force people to stop smoking so what happened was that everyone just walked all the way to the edge of company property and smoked anyway...and then threw their smoke butts all over the ground because there were no longer any bins for them to properly dispose of the used smokes.
So now the city has been threatening to fine our company because all the butts all over the ground are an eyesore and considered littering. There are emails going around stating that anyone caught throwing smokes on the ground will be written up or have further disciplinary action taken for repeat offenders.
This was all over something that I believe was implemented in order to find out who was leaving their desks for smoke breaks to assist with furthering layoffs ('Your productivity has decreased due to your smoke breaks, so we've eliminated your position').
I find it hard to believe that any company would be able to enforce something like that from a legal standpoint (saying you're not allowed to smoke anymore). As far as laying you off for your smoke breaks, I suppose it's your word versus theirs."
"I work in transportation for the Air Force. Typically every year towards the end of the fiscal year, fuels will shut down specific pumps for some budgetary reason or something, so our boss made a rule that leading up to the date that the shutoff would happen, you have to fuel a vehicle every time it was used.
One day, the main base diesel pump got shut off, and the only working pump was 5-6 miles away. We had a job that day that needed a four or five forklifts. When asked, our boss told us we still needed to fuel them when we were done.
Now, these were warehouse forklifts that top out at maybe 8 mph going downhill, but it was all flat. We all got done and were told to go fill them up. To get to the pump, you had to drive through the main area of base on a road that led to one of the gates. Oh yeah, and it was around lunchtime for most people.
So there was this convoy of forklifts averaging about 5mph, holding up traffic in order to get fuel. There was a 3-mile-long row of cars just trying to get off base stuck behind us. I could only laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. The real kicker is that we probably used more fuel driving out to those pumps than if we just let it go that one time."
"I worked the closing shift at a gas station in my college years. At the end of the day, we would have to take food set to expire out of the shelves and coolers, write it off, and dispose of it. The owner of the company did it that way for 30-40 years. Then he got too old and decided to sell it, so new owners, new rules.
In their eyes, we were all just low life temps who were definitely criminals. We were no longer allowed to write off the foods and dispose of them ourselves because we would just hide stuff until it expired and then take it home (their words, not mine).
So instead, we were supposed to just put it in the office and wait for the general manager to come take care of it...the general manager that came by once a week. Remember, we are talking about fresh foods such as meat sandwiches, egg sandwiches, milk, fruits, etc.
The office had a fire door, one that prevents smoke and such to permeate should a fire occur, which luckily also prevented much of the smell from entering the rest of the building. Imagine a rancid open-air trash can (or rather, the manager's desk) filled with meats, dairy products, fruits, etc. For some strange reason, we were once again allowed to dispose of foods not long after."
"I'm a programmer and one time my managers implemented an 'agile' work tracking system that measured programmers by the amount of feature requests they completed. We quickly figured out how to game that system by breaking everything down into the maximum number of feature requests we could imagine. We'd make separate feature stories for 'make new button,' 'make button blue,' 'make button respond when clicked,' 'make new page for the new report,' 'run business logic to get results,' 'display results in grid,' 'set font for grid,' 'make grid sortable,' and 'make back button return to previous page,' We became great at dividing a one-day task into 20 one-hour tasks.
Management loved it! Our team looked twenty times as productive and became an example to show off our process as the best performing team, despite producing far less actual work with more useless form-filling."
"Way back in the antediluvian days of the 20th century, I worked as a government inspector in one of the larger US states. This was before the advent of government employee unions. Each fiscal year, the personnel department would come up with proposals for reimbursing employees for official travel, discuss it with an employee association, and send it to the state legislature for rubber stamping.
One year, someone came up with the bright idea that travel reimbursement should cover more than overnight trips, so employees who were required to travel more than 25 miles from their headquarters should get a lunch allowance. My guess is that no one looked hard at the proposal, and those that did were thinking of staff who went to occasional meetings, not people who were on the road every day.
Well, my agency had the state divided up into districts, and inspectors in the districts were on the road almost daily. In my case, it was a combination of overnight and day trips. It was pretty common to be more than 25 miles away from my office, and my colleagues and I discovered that it was easy to change 'pretty common' to 'almost always.' Multiply that by not only my own agency staff but the staff in every other agency that did fieldwork.
We cleaned up on the lunch allowances, the state budget for employee travel was completely blown before the year was half over, and, as soon as legally possible, the rule was changed to cover only specific emergency conditions."
"I'm an electrician in New York City. A few months ago, I was doing a job at the Google Building in Manhattan when they were building out a few floors to put in new offices and workspaces.
The general contractor was kind of a jerk, mainly because they implemented safety measures that were over the top or unnecessary for the work environment. Remember, we were working inside a fully operational building with light materials, no real heights to deal with, and no other hazards you'd expect on a full-scale construction site.
One of the brilliant rules they implemented was that there was to be no more music playing, so no radios, Bluetooth speakers, or even just playing music from the speaker on your phone. The reasoning behind it was that it was considered excessive noise, and nobody would be able to hear you if you were talking to them for any reason.
So what did everyone do? We just started wearing earbuds/headphones instead. Technically it was allowed since it wasn't creating a noise hazard, but now nobody could talk to anyone or hear anyone speak because their ears were so plugged up with whatever music or podcasts we were listening to. If anything, the earbuds were a bigger safety hazard compared to if they'd just let us keep the radios but politely asked us to keep the volume a little lower."
"All printers were defaulted to print two-sided and you were unable to disable that feature. The thought process being that this would 1) reduce paper waste by literally cutting consumption in half, and 2) prevent people from printing out personal crap on work printers. This was decided by a committee of people, primarily from human resources, who were tasked by the CEO to find ways to reduce costs and improve our corporate culture. To improve our culture, we basically decided that we'd be jerks about work printers and then we'd all sing together and have a Coke.
What ended up happening instead was that corporate finance crapped a brick because you can't, or shouldn't, print financials double sided and the IRS doesn't take too kindly to getting filings delivered to them in that fashion. Reverse the policy? Nope. Just force areas to add blank pages into documents so that we trick the printers.
HR then implemented their new Gestapo-esque program where you were rewarded for turning in anyone who was doing 'personal business' on work computers or on work printers. The problem was that a stunning amount of 'personal business' was actually stuff like employee benefits paperwork, filling out insurance forms, submitting flex pay receipts, scanning your transcripts for our tuition assistance program, etc.
While the vice president of HR decided to go full-on witch mode and say that employee benefit stuff wasn't 'work-related' and needed to be done at home on your personal computer, our freaking Chief Legal Officer came down as our voice of moral reasoning to say that was bullcrap, and only then did some of the stupidity unfold. The printer thing was officially over once the Chief Analytics Officer and Chief Financial Officer started getting double sided financials. When they complained, their underlings gave them time studies to show the financial cost of having highly paid CPAs do stuff like insert blank pages to trick printers instead of, you know, doing accounting and stuff."
"As general manager of a small business, I had an informal 'just shoot me a text if you will be late or are sick and can't come in' rule. That policy backfired when one employee texted me 5 days in a row about being late. They lived closer to the office than I did and I only had a 7-minute commute. Then they got all sassy when I finally wrote them up for being late, claiming, 'I thought we just had to send you a text!'
So then the rule went to 'just call me if you are sick and not able to come in.' That worked alright, for a while. First, one employee called in three days in a row, intentionally calling before the office opened, knowing that my location manager and I wouldn't be there. He got rid of his cell phone about a month ago and claimed to not have a landline. He would call from an 'unknown caller' ID, so we couldn't even call him back.
Second, I had a very early morning flight one Saturday and all my staff knew when I would be out of town. I landed after three hours to find my phone had been blowing up. One employee decided to wait until he knew I was on the flight to text me that he would not be coming in. That left me trying to arrange employees at 9 am on a Saturday morning, without access to my computer or scheduling Excel stuff, in a city a thousand miles away. So now the rule is, 'if you are sick, you need to call and speak directly with either the general or location manager; texting and voicemail are no longer accepted.'"
"My friend worked as a technician at a place that did installation for telecom, sound, cable, and pretty much anything tech related. The techs were paid by work order completion, so each job had a value that got paid out when you finished the work order.
The experienced techs could finish more jobs in a day and made some seriously good money. They were motivated to work fast to get more jobs done, but also to do it correctly because having to go back within a certain time window and fix a problem didn't pay out, so they'd lose money.
Then some new management came in and decided to change everyone to hourly wages, with the idea that it'd make techs focus on 'getting the job done right and not rushing it.'
All the really good techs saw a massive pay cut from it and immediately quit. The rest of the techs suddenly had no reason to finish jobs quickly since you got paid the same whether you did two installs or 10 installs in one day, so everyone just started slacking off. Within a few weeks, the orders were backed up so bad that install dates were pushed out for a month or more, and when people finally did get their stuff installed, it took all day instead of a couple hours. That one change completely boned the company."
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
"When I was managing a store, my rule was that the closer had to do all the closing work and mark the checklist, and I would check it the following morning. However, I put a loophole in. If you close one night and open the next day, you can come in early the following morning instead.
I was really the only one who closed and then opened the following morning, and I knew that on many of those days, I worked ten hours with non-stop managerial work. So instead of staying late to clean, I liked to come in early and do it in sunlight.
Well, one day I followed my rule. And the next morning I woke up sick and had to call an employee to cover. He showed up to a dirty store, opted not to clean, and then got written up when the owner made a surprise visit. 'I didn't close, so it wasn't my job,' he said.
The owner replied, 'You work here and the store is dirty, so it is your job.'
I then had to go tell the owner that it was my fault and he still responded, 'Regardless of what you did or didn't do, he came into a dirty store and did not clean it. That's not acceptable.' I removed my rule change and just made it mandatory to clean before leaving because clearly my old policy backfired and I felt bad."
"A nursing home in our area thought it would be a great idea to bring back the traditional white nursing caps. They made it mandatory for all female nurses to wear during their shifts or be written up (and eventually pointing yourself out). Male nurses were not included.
About half of the staff quit within the first two weeks and several started working at my facility. The others that stayed said the residents and their families laughed and made fun of the nurses constantly with pretty degrading and misogynistic comments.
About three months after all that went down, someone from corporate came in and fired all the directors who implemented the uniform change, and everything went back to normal. Several nurses stayed with my company, but a few went back after the rules changed."
"I work in the motor trade and it's always the rules about car keys that backfire. Carrying around bunches of keys is a part of nearly everyone's job. Left to nature and the waxing and the waning of the moon, car keys will always go missing, but they always magically come back. It's when you interfere with the natural cycle that they get properly lost.
In my first job, the manager would raise a storm about missing keys and rain down an ungodly torrent of abuse on whatever poor soul misplaced them or accidentally left them in their jacket pocket going home.
The net result was that if after a frantic search by the whole garage and a review of the CCTV yielded nothing, whatever poor soul who forgot to hang the keys back up would just toss the keys into a ditch rather than face the crapstorm.
Another place I worked in had a 'no keys in your pockets' rule to stop people going home with them on accident. What happened then was that if you had a bunch of keys, you needed to put them down somewhere if you were doing paperwork or moving a car around the lot. So keys were left in random other cars or in random offices where you had no hope of finding them. Luckily I've risen to the point where I make the rules now.
I never make a fuss if a key goes missing, because the amount of drama a manager causes about a missing key is inversely proportional to the amount of time it takes for a key to magically reappear on the key board. Also, I require keys to always be in pockets. That way if somebody misplaces a key, it's in their pocket and they'll realize as soon as they go home and change out of their work clothes. That means we don't need to open every freaking car on the lot to check for keys that have been left on a passenger seat or fallen on the floor."
Subscribe to our digest and receive a weekly email of hand-picked stories.
At RateMyJob, we put together this website to provide professionals a way to share & unwind and to compare work experiences with others.