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Is Your Open Door Policy REALLY Open?


I was talking with a friend recently about some troubles she is having at work. She works for a larger company who promotes their “open door” policy – if an employee is having a hard time or needs guidance on handling work situations, they are encouraged to contact corporate to get the help they need.


Sometimes, while thinking the door is really open, it can be only partially open and jammed from the other side it seems.


As the story goes, there was an issue at work. My friend had a conversation with her direct manager and the issues went unresolved. After another attempt, she went to the store manager for help, again with the same result. Time passed, and, not quite sure what to do from here, remembered the company’s open door policy and wanted to try that route.


What happened next was interesting. She went to the company website to send a form (she prefers email and content put into writing) and found the information about the open door policy. It took a little digging, but she was able to find the area to submit her request. So far, so good.


The first step asked if she was an employee, customer, or other (not sure what other would be though). After choosing employee, there were three options: 1) I have an issue regarding my work and need help, 2) I have a concern with something that is happening at my location, and 3) I have a general employment question. When choosing the first option, she was met with a statement along the lines of “thank you for your concern. Please talk with your direct supervisor first. If that does not resolve your issue, please go to your store manager.” That was also the case for the second option. If someone selects the third option, they could continue completing the form.


Now, I completely get this; being a larger company, I’m sure they would get a myriad of requests that could likely be handled at a lower level. However, this can send the wrong message – had there been an additional line that said, “If you have already tried the above and still have concerns, please click here to continue” it would have been better.


Essentially, employees in a similar situation could walk away with the feeling that if they follow the proper channels with regard to chain of command, so to speak, and are still having problems, the company really doesn’t want to hear about it. That may or may not be true, but this is how it could be perceived.


Think about your company’s employee policy – is the door wide open, open just a bit, or jammed shut? Take a look at it from an employee’s perspective too, to make sure that you are making the process as simple as possible, while alleviating the need to handle issues that aren’t relevant at this level, but also to make sure you’re sending the right message to those employees who are having difficulties. This can go a long way in employee satisfaction and perception.



Author: Ann Michaels & Associates

Ann Michaels & Associates has been providing customer experience measurement services since 1998. We provide a full range of services to meet the needs of all industries and company sizes, including mystery shopping, customer and employee feedback services, and social media management.

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