3 Outdated HR Practices to Lose in 2019

Do you know why your company engages in the HR practices that it does? If you are applying HR practices simply because your policies are “how it’s done,” it may be time to take a second look at your handbook.

Sure, it can be easy to develop HR policies that reflect practices you’re familiar with, but are you sure these practices are truly benefiting you, your employees and your future employees? The new year is an excellent time to rework and enhance your handbook. To get started, let’s go over 3 outdated HR practices to lose now. 

Probationary Periods

Probationary periods are one of those practices that are still in handbooks because they are something that “has always been done” – but nobody really knows why.  Business owners, particularly small business owners, hold onto probationary periods with the belief that they provide a zero-risk period of time to fire a new employee, should they not work out. But that isn’t the case. In fact, even under a probationary period, employees still have the ability to claim wrongful termination.

There is absolutely no reason to do a probationary period for new employees; probationary periods don’t mean anything of value, and could even put your business at risk. For example, employees may interpret a probationary period as a guarantee that they will not get fired after the period has ended. If the probationary policy isn’t carefully written, this could create a liability that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Probationary periods can also be a threat to talent acquisition, as many job-seekers view companies with probationary periods as untrustworthy.¹

You can call it what you want – introductory period, training period, or probationary period – but there is still no point in having this as a policy. If you want to carve out some time for new hires to be in a structured learning environment to assimilate to the company and their role, absolutely do that. If you want to make sure you give feedback to new employees, provide feedback. But that isn’t a probationary period – that’s onboarding, training, and managing your employees.

Separate Vacation, Sick and Personal Time Policies


Not only is it unnecessary to have separate time-off buckets, it’s time-consuming and inconvenient to track separate hours for vacation, sick and personal time. Instead of three separate policies, we suggest implementing a Paid Time Off (PTO) policy that gives employees a lump sum of time off to do what they wish. The reason why someone takes a day off should be irrelevant.

This simplified policy reduces the temptation for employees to lie about why they’re taking a day off, increasing trust and transparency between employers and employees. It’s also an attractive benefit for employees, as today’s workforce values flexibility. In fact, a 2018 Deloitte study of 10,000 people revealed that a lack of work flexibility is the #1 reason a millennial would quit their job.²

Poorly-Written Handbooks


Handbooks, much like HR, get a bad rap. However, if they’re written intentionally and with a comprehensive approach, they don’t trigger such a negative response. Long gone are the days that an employee handbook is a long list of things that employees can’t do. If all they are being told is what not to do, how do they know what they are expected to do?

Instead of focusing only on potential employee offenses, create a handbook that focuses on your company culture, mission and employee expectations.

Incorporate pictures and language that is specific to your organization or industry, so your employees immediately understand and relate to your company’s values and objectives. Your handbook should be a working document that employees refer to as a resource – not a document of rules that they dread as a burden.

Now that you’ve removed these antiquated HR practices, your handbook is well on its way to reaching its greatest potential for the new year. If you have any questions or would like guidance on revamping your HR practices, we’re here to help!


 – Deanna

1. Source: Pros and Cons of Employee Probationary Periods

2. Source: The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey