Employee Handbook: What to Include and What to Update

April 1, 20199:37 am
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Sometimes, newly-built company underestimates the power of employee handbook. As they might still have small team that focuses more on product and service development, crafting well-arranged employee handbook seems to be the least priority. While in fact, employee handbook is a-must have guide for every, be it small or large, organisation. The handbook is just like a bible for every manager and staff in the organisation.

Why is employee handbook important?

Employe handbook is crucial to have because it outlines your company policies, history, and all conducts that should be followed by current and future employees. While majority (87 percent) small-sized businesses with 10-200 employees said they already have employee handbooks, HR experts agree that it is best practice to start handbook as soon as you hire your first candidates.

See also: Data Governance for Employees

Harrison Barnes, managing director at BCG Attorney search, told Law Crossing that,“Employee handbook is important as it provides standardization of personnel and benefit policies, preventing misunderstanding, complaints, and job dissatisfaction out of misinterpretation of personnel and benefit policies by employees.”

Therefore, you should have employee handbook to:

  • bring uniformly across your company,
  • save time on your personnel or administration from company,
  • help new employees set their expectations from company,
  • become a guide for HR team and a reference manual for your manager,
  • reduce start-up time of your new employees,
  • include terms and conditions for use of equipment and fallout from non-compliance rules,
  • help business in complying federal as well as state employment laws,
  • help company come forward with it stand issues.

Moreover, a great employee handbooks should help define company’s vision and should be straightforward with rules and regulations. As your handbook clarifies employee/employer relationship and protects company by reducing compliance exposure, it should always be at its the best to define expectations for your team. Additionally, it should help new employees get up to speed quickly and keep your team in sync. Your handbook should set the tone for your workplace. According to Handbooks guide, you should do these actions before creating and or updating your handbook.

Do maintenance

  • Only 32 percent of companies collect acknowledgement signatures from their employees. This is a must as it provide proofs that your employee understand the whole statements in your handbook.
  • About 18 percent of companies review and update their policies each year. Employee handbooks are living documents and should grow with your company.

Acknowledge your new hires

Telling origin story of your company helps new hires gain a sense of mission, culture and values of their new employer. The first paragraphs should be warm and inviting. Teams benefit from a shared history and handbook is a great place for this story.

Important consideration to include

  • Showcase your benefits but do not get too specific about details. They might change over time.
  • Make sure your employees know where to turn when they have problems. Be clear about reporting issues.
  • Do not make policies too rigid. Be sure to give yourself enough flexibility for unexpected scenarios.

Crucial content you should include

  • Define the at-will relationship. Employment can be terminated at any time, for any reason.
  • Get health and safety policies on record. They should be clear and concise.
  • Have policies on equal opportunity, harassment, leave, discrimination, and breaks.
  • Clearly state that handbook is not a contract and is subject to change over time. Have an attorney look it over.

Furthermore, Katie Yahnke at i-sight suggested that employee handbook should be monitored regularly and updated yearly to ensure its eligibility. Sometimes, some regions are changing their policies regarding some issues where company should adjust themselves to it. Accordingly, if you haven’t update your yearly employee handbook, we suggest you to put these suggestion on top of your list.

  • Handbooks must be clear that employees have no right to privacy while accessing social media at work. Employees should not download apps onto a device that also contains employee information.
  • You should update your handbook on posting or saying negative things about workplace or recording anything in workplace.
  • Your state might have changed or added rules about paid leave. Thus, you should update it.
  • Weapons policy is needed in today’s society. If you have not stated this in your handbook, you better add it or if you have, you better update it to the latest regarding issues happen in your country. Moreover, weapons policy is crucially needed when your state allow their citizens to have free access to weapons.
  • Handbooks can provide employees from revealing confidential business information. However, it should avoid any language that could be interpreted as infringing on free speech.
  • You should include policy that allow you to fire someone for off-duty conduct violations related to their involvement in political protests and other forms of demonstration.
  • You can add policy regarding retaliation claim saying that they would be protected. But company cannot promise confidentiality for people who make retaliation complaints.
  • You should state that employees cannot work overtime without advance permission from manager and that they will be disciplined if they do not do so.
  • You can add policy regarding procedures for correcting a mistake in event of improper payment to or deductions from employee’s pay.
  • You might want to add policy prohibiting employees from discussing salaries in workplace.
  • Including or upgrading policy for disabilities, autism, as well as Down syndrome.
  • For tobacco users, you should clearly mention in your handbooks where to smoke or lit e-cigarettes. Additionally, for states where marijuana is used legally, handbook should state that employee should not be under influence of legal drugs that impair them while on job.
  • You should concern on discrimination policy. Update and rearrange your handbook regarding LGBT rights, age, race, gender, or marital status.

Read also: Workplace Sensitivity Training for Employees