Tania Tandon: We choose people over policy every time


We founded TandonHildebrand  from a vision of what our ideal professional services firm looked like: a firm that was all about people, people who are our clients, people who work with us, and people who do work for us. In practice, that has to date meant no time sheets, no fees based on time incurred, no written HR policies or handbooks, one page employment contracts, no prescriptive holidays and no fixed working hours.

With just under 20 years’ experience as an employment lawyer advising companies (from owner managed ones, to international and listed) and executives, my view of standard HR written documentation has evolved from accepting them as the norm and therefore accepting they must have a purpose, through wondering what it all actually achieves, to finally finding that in many cases they increase the people risk within businesses and gives rise to unnecessary mistrust.

People are all different, each creating complex and specific relationships with each other. It is the combination of all those relationships that results in the people piece in a business. Applying a blanket policy to all employees with regards to these unique relationships therefore cuts across, and often damages, the relationships that have evolved.

Yet having written HR policies and procedures is standard today, so much so that businesses are embarrassed to admit if they don’t have them. Sooner or later, they will ensure they do. They may print a few off the internet, copy some from friends and family, engage an HR professional to fix the problem or even engage an HR consultancy. Until these documents are in place, it is seen as a gap that should not exist in a proper business.

Before trying to fill a gap that may or may not be there, we would urge anyone to consider first whether there is a need in their particular case. We decided to forego the written policies and celebrate the individual relationships between our team and the business. And we haven’t looked back.
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