Experiencing “Labour Pains”? Retention Tip #2


Are you aware that your organization has unwritten rules?

Unwritten rules (synonyms: Unspoken rules) are behavioral constraints imposed in organizations or societies that are not typically voiced or written down. They usually exist in unspoken and unwritten format because they form a part of the logical argument or course of action implied by common assumptions.  Examples involving unspoken rules include unwritten and unofficial organizational hierarchies, organizational culture and acceptable behavioral norms governing interactions between organizational members.

For example:    Friday is casual day and you can wear jeans and contribute a loonie to the casual fund which we use for a charitable cause; or, the staff always order out at least once a month;  if you need supplies, just add them to the list on the supply cabinet door.

Are your employees aware of your company’s or team’s unwritten rules? Do they know if it’s okay to turn off their video during a Zoom meeting? Or to take a break from work and go for a walk in the middle of the day?

During stressful times, it can be helpful to everyone, whether they’ve been at your company for years or just started last week, to know exactly what the unstated cultural and emotional norms are. So, write them down and share them. The authors call these “it’s okay to…” lists and suggest including unspoken rules related to digital communication norms, emotional support, psychological safety, and work styles. This simple exercise can have a big impact on easing employee anxiety and helping every person on your team feel secure and supported.

by Tracy Isenor, Employer Engagement Specialist – Nova Scotia Works | FutureWorx Elmsdale