Every employee comes to a new company with their own unique background, experience, and ideas about how to interact within the workplace. These differences can make it difficult to get every employee adapted to a new company’s culture. This is why developing an employee handbook is critical for every employer.
An employee handbook is a clear outline of a company’s policies and an employee’s rights. It lays out the legal obligations of the company to its employees and also gives them an overall look at the company culture and expectations.
If you’re an employer, the benefits of having an employee handbook range from having a harmonious workplace to shielding your company from legal trouble. Every company should have one.
What to Communicate with Your Employee Handbook
Just as every business is different, every employee handbook is different. But, while individual policies will differ from company to company, there are some general ideas that every employee handbook should include.
- Expectations—While most employees have a general idea of what is appropriate behavior at work, the employee handbook is the place to clearly outline these expectations to minimize confusion. The handbook should include the company dress code and policies on breaks, equipment, drugs and alcohol, internal communication, conflict, and employee relationships. The handbook should also talk about any work performance expectations and outline any disciplinary processes.
- Support—Even with crystal clear explanations of company expectations, workplace issues still inevitably arise. The employee handbook should tell employees where to direct their complaints or concerns and make them feel like they have recourse if an issue does arise.
- Benefits—The employee handbook should include a general overview of the types of benefits available to employees. Because benefits packages may differ among positions at the company, the handbook is not the place for details on health insurance or retirement packages, but there should be a clear process for requesting vacation, sick leave, or other time off.
- Values—The employee handbook is an opportunity for management to communicate the values of the organization to employees. The handbook should state the company’s core values and give employees a clear view of why they are doing what they do every day.
Tips for Developing an Employee Handbook
The benefits of having an employee handbook should make it a priority for every company. Still, writing and updating a handbook can be a huge undertaking. Here are some tips for creating a handbook that works for your company.
- Be clear and avoid jargon—The employee handbook should be the document employees can turn to when they are confused about a policy. Don’t confuse them further with jargon.
- Check the legalese—While an employee handbook is not a legally binding document, having clear and concise explanations of policies can help avoid litigation in disputes with employees. Also, be sure to have an employment lawyer examine the handbook to make sure that the policies it outlines are in compliance with state and federal law.
- Develop a communication strategy—For a company to realize all the benefits of having an employee handbook, the employees need to actually read it. While developing the handbook, employers should outline a strategy for disseminating it. New employees should be required to read the handbook and sign off on it before starting work, and all employees should be informed about updates to the handbook.
Key Policies to Include in an Employee Handbook
- Harassment—The employee handbook needs to make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and outline what constitutes harassment, how to report it, and how it is investigated.
- Discrimination—When it comes to preventing discrimination, the handbook should comply with the guidelines laid out by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Discipline—Every company should have a defined process for dealing with employees who violate its policies or who don’t meet work performance standards.
- Social Media—Employers who monitor the social media activity of their employees can run into trouble with the law in some states. Companies should make sure that their policies don’t infringe on the protected speech of their employees.
- Compensation and Leave—The handbook should include instructions on how to fill out timesheets and when to expect payment. It should also lay out guidelines for how to take vacation and leave.
- Privacy—Every company has different needs when it comes to privacy, but employees should be aware of what is and is not acceptable to discuss outside the office.
Creating an employee handbook can be a huge benefit for any business, but it is also quite an undertaking. Some companies just don’t have the time to develop their own handbooks, but LBMC Employment Partners can help. Among our wide range of human resources services includes creating and updating an employee handbook. If you need help with this important project, contact us today.