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One of your employees is selling candy to help his kids raise money for a school project. Another is passing out brochures and taking orders for a party to sell jewelry or food-storage containers. And then there's the salesperson who stops by with a supply of lunch items for your employees to purchase. It's no big deal, right? Wrong.
"While workplace solicitation may seem harmless, it has the potential to create labor problems, productivity problems and morale problems for employers," says D. Allen Miller, managing director of Business Advantage International, a human resource services firm in Farmington, Utah.
Under Miller's guidance, Bing Fang, 35, president of AMT Labs in North Salt Lake, Utah, enforces a solicitation and literature distribution policy at his neutraceutical manufacturing company. The policy prohibits solicitation of employees on company property by all unapproved outside entities. "We make vitamin and mineral supplements, and we follow stringent sanitation regulations," Fang says. "Outside solicitors could accidentally contaminate products or be hurt by equipment."
AMT Labs' policy also bans employees from soliciting one another during work time or whenever such activity may interfere with work. It does, however, allow such soliciting on breaks and at meal times. Solicitation includes asking for funds for memberships, products, contributions or other purposes, as well as distributing anything other than company literature. Management may make an exception to the policy in unusual circumstances, such as taking up a collection in a case of hardship. Says Fang, "The policy makes it easy for employees who don't want to participate to just walk away and know they can't be badgered at all hours. But they can make their own choices while on their break or at lunch time."
Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 13 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.