Do you currently have an employee handbook? If not, you may want to reconsider your current position. An employee handbook will help cover your bases if issues arise in your organization. It establishes rules of conduct and behavior and puts some level of ownership on the employees for maintaining order in the office. Here are some of the primary reasons you need a handbook and the nightmares you can avoid.
- Have it reviewed by a lawyer. To confirm everything in your handbook is suitable and legally correct, your policies should be reviewed by a lawyer specializing in human resources. Policies are easy to misunderstand so protect yourself by using concise and legally appropriate language.
- Follow Federal and State laws. A lawyer can also help you understand federal and state employment laws and ensure your policies follow suit. The art of a good employee handbook falls within the subtleties of the law.
- Brevity is key. Thick books of rules will undoubtedly go unread. Your policies should be formatted as a fingertip guide to make it easy to read. A table of contents or index will help employees look up specific information as needed.
- Be clear about how to report issues. Reporting problems in the workplace is very important to effectively enforce policies. Include steps to report an issue such as harassment or discrimination.
- Look at handbooks for similar organizations. You don’t need to recreate the wheel. Consider handbooks from other companies who are similar to yours. You will see what is important to include legally and for your employees.
- Don’t let it get dusty. Policies need to change regularly to reflect any updates in the laws. Evaluate your handbook once a year and update anything that may have changed. You can also use this time to update any policies that may have been unclear.
- Provide a disclaimer. It is impossible to know every potential event that could occur in your company. Include a statement that indicates the policies are a general guideline and not comprehensive. Without a disclaimer the handbook can be seen as a contract throw up legal roadblocks if a current or former employee decides to take action against the company.
- Don’t get caught up in language. Peppering your handbook with legal or industry jargon only complicates communication. Hire a writer with a human resources experience to create an easy to read handbook.
- Make employees aware of the handbook or changes. Suddenly introducing a handbook can tell your employees that you are not happy with their conduct. Instead, let them know the handbook has been introduced to enforce current policies. New hires should receive a copy or know where to find it in the office. Provide a document for them to sign indicating they are aware of the handbook and keep it in their employee files.
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