From start-ups to major corporations, every business needs an employee handbook.
This important tool is the foundation for the workforce, outlining the expectations and communicating the policies that guide your company. It covers important topics like standards of conduct, workplace bullying, payroll, drug and alcohol policies, medical leave, safety and security, overtime, disciplinary actions, nepotism, harassment, industry regulations, and more. To be effective, your firm’s handbook should be unique and reflect your organization’s specific policies, procedures and size—a generic, off-the-shelf version won’t do. While template handbooks typically cover federal regulations, they often fail to include state or local laws and rarely include what is appropriate for smaller organizations. Not to mention that a key goal of the handbook is to give employees an understanding of why specific topics are included and how they fit into your organization.
A comprehensive, well-designed employee handbook has many benefits, including:
- Welcoming new employees and introducing them to the company culture
- Communicating your company’s expectations for workplace behavior and the consequences of not meeting those expectations
- Sharing company policies and protocols for their enforcement
- Acting as a valuable resource to employees and management for handling day-to-day issues
- Providing evidence that the company’s policies are consistent with and encourage adherence to employment laws
The absence of an up to date employee handbook can spell disaster for a business. Many companies issue an employee handbook but fail to review and update it periodically, leaving the firm exposed to a host of legal risks. If you have haven’t updated your company’s handbook in a while, here are five reasons why you should make it a priority:
- Laws and regulations change. Local, state, and federal rules, regulations, and laws change frequently. This may include, but is not limited to, topics like minimum wage, family leave laws, gender pay gaps, equal employment and overtime regulations. You have a responsibility to ensure that your company abides by the laws that apply to your business.
- Company changes. Has your company undergone any major changes lately? If you rebranded or reorganized your business, it’s important that your handbook reflects those changes.
- Missing information. Is your handbook lacking in important procedural details or topics such as termination policies or unemployment? Add this critical information before it causes a problem. Likewise, if sections are no longer relevant, remove them.
- Social/technology changes. Every year, some new social or technological trend enters the working world. Topics like data privacy, social media, and smartphone usage need to be addressed as they become relevant in your workplace.
- You’re unsure if all employees have one. Having an employee handbook in place is essential, but without collecting signed receipts of acknowledgment from every staff member, your efforts will fall short.
A good rule of thumb is to review your employee handbook annually with your HR and legal team. If you notice anything that needs an update, take care of it ASAP. It goes without saying that if you don’t have an employee handbook at all, it’s time to write one immediately.
Follow these employee handbook best practices to ensure that your organization is making proper use of this important document:
- Provide all new hires with a copy of your handbook. Walk them through the polices and get their written acknowledgement of receipt and understanding.
- Share updated handbooks appropriately. Every time your handbook is revised, distribute the new copies to all employees. Be sure to get their signatures to acknowledge receipt of the new version and their understanding of its contents.
- Follow the policies consistently. If you distribute a handbook but don’t follow its practices and procedures, you’ll have a weak defense in the face of a dispute.
Though an employee handbook can be a time-consuming document to assemble and maintain, it’s worth its weight in gold.
It’s priceless in providing guidance, answering policy questions, resolving arguments, and providing a solid defense for your business, if necessary. Do you need assistance with updating or creating the employee handbook for your organization? We’re here to help. Please reach out to our friendly professionals for guidance.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.