Because some employers are often not very enthusiastic regarding the formal creation of policies and procedures governing the way we do things in the workplace (often referred to as superfluous “red tape”), I need to provide a bit of philosophical motivation by way of introduction – so bear with me.
Arguably, the absolute best time to formulate and establish rules for war, is when there is peace. Similarly, the best prospect of establishing rules for the benefit of all concerned, is when such rules are the product of deliberations which involved the input and interests of those who will be governed by the rules. Rules formulated in this way also have the highest probability of being accepted and adhered to.
Rules should never be formulated, placing self-interest at the centre. Rules need to have a common purpose or common objective which is generally acceptable in a free and democratic society.
There also needs to be a commonality among those subjected to it as far as the understanding and interpretating of the rules are concerned. This is best illustrated in the world of sport:
You cannot play rugby by applying soccer or cricket rules. Similarly, you cannot allow all participants in a particular game to each apply their own rules to the game – that will lead to utter chaos.
If the above philosophical reasoning makes sense to you, consider applying it to workplace rules and notice how comparatively appropriate this reasoning is.
Where employers found it difficult to effectively discipline employees, it appears that there either were no common rules governing the behaviour concerned, or that the rules that were in place had been imposed unilaterally (and even inconsistently) without creating a mutual understanding regarding the rationale for the existence of the rules.
Where properly established workplace rules are in place, the boundaries of acceptable behaviour are clearly drawn and when these boundaries are challenged (which invariably happens), those in breach of these rules can effectively be brought to book, with no loophole through which to escape liability.