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The Importance of a Strong Employee Handbook

why_you_shouldThough many of us take the employee handbook for granted, a well-written and up-to-date handbook is a great tool for both a company and its employees and should be properly maintained and referred to on a regular basis to ensure that all company policies are being followed.

Benefits of an Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is a useful tool because it can be used for widespread communication by the company. A detailed handbook highlights the history of the company along with the organization’s mission and vision, policies, procedures and benefits. It can also communicate any federal and/or state rules and regulations that must be followed by the company to ensure that the business doesn’t run afoul of any government agencies.

When a handbook is written correctly, it will communicate clearly everything that is expected from both management and employees and will help protect the company and its employees from unfair treatment or discrimination along with any other legal claims.

When Should You Update Your Handbook?

Although you want to be sure your handbook is up-to-date, it is not necessary to update it every single month. Consider revisiting your handbook at the beginning of each year to bring update it, and if there are times during the course of the year that you make major policy changes to your business, take the extra time and effort necessary to update the handbook to reflect these changes.

What Should Be in an Employee Handbook?

Begin with an at-will statement that defines the relationship between employee and the company and highlight how no policy will impact this relationship. Following this statement, you are welcome to include any information about your company’s history and vision so new employees will be able to learn about your business ethic and style.

After the basic information section, add a new section highlighting the different benefits your company provides. This could include benefits such as insurance, holidays and vacation information.

Now that you have taken the opportunity to introduce your company, the relationship it will have with your employees and the benefits you provide, it is time to include all the policies, procedures and regulations that employees and management must adhere to on a daily basis. You can begin this section with anti-discrimination policies for your business and the proper procedures for reporting any violations and also add any federal or state laws that your company must follow.

Once the legal speak is out of the way, it is time to focus on the policies for conducting business. In this section, highlight various aspects of life at your company, including things like dress codes and times when you expect your workers to be present. Be sure to also include your sick leave policy and the procedures you expect to be followed when employees fall ill. In today’s digital age, it is paramount that you include a technology policy highlighting how you expect computer systems, the Internet and even electronic communication to be used.

Who Gets the Handbook?

Obviously, each new employee should receive the most recent handbook for your company, and there should be a page at the end of the book that they must sign. However, if you have employees that stay with the company for years, chances are their handbooks are out-of-date. Consider issuing new handbooks periodically to all your employees, or at least give them any new documents to add to their existing handbooks so that your most dedicated employees are well-informed about the changes in your business.

Using an employee handbook is one of the best ways you can communicate company policy changes to both your management and your employees. This ensures that there are no breakdowns in the communication lines so all of your workers stay current on what is expected of them each day at the office. An up-to-date and accurate employee handbook is a great tool for companies and employees that should be referred to regularly.

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