Five Company Policies to Understand Before You Accept a New Position

Company policies can range from the trivial to the career changing. Before you accept a new position, you need to know what those on the more critical end of the spectrum truly entail. Here are five policies you need to understand before deciding.

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1. Non-compete policies

You are just about to start a new job, so you are probably not thinking about what might happen after you leave. Big mistake. Because if your new employer requires that you sign a non-compete agreement, you are not going to like what happens if things do not work out.

Non-compete agreements can stop you from taking another job in the same field after you are gone. Many companies do not want their former employees working for their competitors and spilling trade secrets. So, before you even start, you need to know if you will be forced to sign such a contract. You do not want to have to completely change career tracks just because things did not go well at one particular company. If the organization does have these policies in place, speak to an attorney before you sign anything.

2. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies

BYOD policies are a relatively new animal. Which means there is a lot of grey area that has not been clarified yet. Generally speaking, a BYOD policy means that employees are allowed to, or encouraged to use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops for company business. This obviously saves the employer money because they do not have to pay for the devices. However, there are issues with privacy and security you need to be aware of. For example, who is responsible if the device gets hacked and confidential company data is obtained? As always, speak with an attorney before signing any such policy.

3. Social media policies

Can you get fired for posting something negative about your boss on your personal social media page? Can you get in trouble for using social media for personal business during working hours? Can your employer force you to promote its products on your social media account? Some organizations are much stricter about social media use than others. And the laws tend to vary, so there is no set-in-stone reference to go by.

Every company is different, but most social media policies are designed to direct how employees are allowed to use social media while under their employment. If you have concerns about what you will and will not be able to post (and when), make sure you read the social media policy section of the employee handbook very thoroughly. If no such thing exists, then at least ask your potential new employer for the information.

4. Privacy policies

Many employees are not aware how few rights they have to privacy in the workplace. Legally, your employer has the right to monitor your emails and phone calls. This applies when you are working from home as well if you are using the company’s devices. They are also allowed to legally test you for drug use at random. They can even video tape you in many cases. This does not mean the employer actually engages in all of these activities just because they can. Your employee handbook should explain the details, and you may even have to sign a document agreeing to the organization’s privacy policies. Never sign anything you do not fully understand. If you need further clarification, get it.

5. Conflict of interest policies

Conflict of interest policies are designed to protect both the employer and the employee from crossing boundaries between personal interests and company interests. For example, if you were to accept consulting fees from a direct competitor, that would be a conflict of interest on your end. Or, if your supervisor blames you for an infraction, they know their assistant committed, that is a conflict of interest on their end. Generally, these policies offer dual protection, but make sure they are not one sided before accepting the job.

Policies differ from company to company, so never assume you do not need to read the fine print just because you signed something similar at your old job. Before you sign anything, or accept any position, you need to know what you are getting yourself into. It never hurts to have an expert look over the policies before you make a commitment.

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