Back in the dark ages of the 1980s and early 1990s— think Gordon Gekko, Yuppies and MS-DOS—being an employee was a fairly straightforward affair. When you were hired, you got an employee manual in a plastic binder. The manual was written in a technical style, stating in clear, easy-to-follow language what to do and what not to do on the job. The policies in the manual were common sense: Be in the office by 9 a.m. Don’t report to work if you’re sick. Don’t drink or do drugs on the job. Don’t discriminate. Don’t leave paperwork marked “confidential” lying around at home (there was no such thing as the Internet or laptops).
Employment, like life, was simpler in those days. Life and work have now become almost inseparable. And our jobs have become inundated with policies.