Employee Handbooks are the backbone of an organization’s culture and guiding principles. More than just policies, they should tell the story of who you are and describe the motivations and priorities that drive your business. Many employers mistakenly think a Handbook only serves the purpose to ensure legal compliance….but that’s not what is most important about a Handbook!
The policies you establish are what align your employee behaviors, organizational philosophy and leadership expectations. An Employee Handbook is like having a rulebook for sports. It defines your company’s boundaries, gives ground rules and explains what is and is not considered acceptable behavior internally and externally.
Legal protections. Of course, Handbooks also protect the company and ensure your policies are compliant with federal and state requirements. While a handbook can’t protect you from being sued, it can provide documentation that can help protect you if you are. For instance, if your handbook explains how overtime is calculated you may be able to use your policy as documentation to help protect yourself and your company in the event of an accusation.
Review contents annually. The employment landscape changes frequently, as such employers are encouraged to review and update their Employee Handbook every year. Avoid creating such detailed policies that require more frequent updates to the Handbook making the process overly burdensome.
It’s not enough to just update the contents each year. You must make sure your employees are aware of your policies and that you review them with your employees every year. Employers are encouraged to provide employees a copy of the Handbook upon hire and every time you update it. Always have them sign an acknowledgement that it was received.
Don’t have a Handbook? It’s time to build one. Think there is a stigma with the name? Call it something fresh, like a Culture Book. No matter what you call it, having a documented set of guidelines that direct your employee’s behavior and allows you to hold them accountable is a win-win!