Solicitation Policies in the Workplace

Solicitation Policies in the Workplace

I was going through policies that often appear in employee handbooks (you can make fun of my nerdiness later). We are approaching the season for two major violations for workplace policy. 

If you look at your employee handbook, you’ll likely see a no-solicitation policy, which generally prohibits employees from handing out literature, asking for signatures on petitions, soliciting contributions, or selling non-work related merchandise during work hours, etc. 

It is a pretty simple thing, but this is the time of year that the pint-size cookies pimps (aka Girl Scouts) are out selling their wares. I used to have daughters in the Girl Scouts. I’ve sold a good number of these cookies and purchased more than my fair share of Girl Scout cookies (the samoa ones totally rock). A lot of employees and employers will turn a blind eye for the Girl Scouts or their parents to sell the cookies at work. It’s innocent enough, but when it comes to policy, it’s a problem. 

We are rapidly approaching March. That means March Madness, bracketology, and multiple days where basketball fan employees will not be getting any work done. Filling out and soliciting people to fill out that March Madness pool is also contrary to your solicitation policy.

If you are going to allow folks to sell their children’s girl scout cookies or allow basketball lovers to solicit coworkers to join their bracket pool, it is going to be very difficult for you as an employer to prohibit other types of activity, which could include anything from religious matters to union organizing. If you permit girl scouts to sell things, what about school fundraisers or charitable organizations? 

You have to very carefully consider what your policy will be, and what would happen if someone violates that policy. If you’re not going to have a policy, then you have to allow things as they are. It is difficult to have exceptions to your policy without a great deal of forethought. 

One way to get around that is to have an approval process that allows people to solicit in very specific areas. For example, an employee may solicit their cause in the company break room, but respect your coworkers choice to not participate. You must be very careful that you aren’t discriminating against ideas or charities. For example, if you are going to allow the Girl Scouts, are you going to allow church fundraisers?

We have to be very careful and it is not an easy line to straddle. Be very vigilant about how you want to handle these things, and if you want to allow the Girl Scouts to sell their cookies, it might be worthwhile to have a good hard long look at the non-solicitation policy in your handbook