Not all employers assemble a formal employee handbook, but all employers should. A handbook is enormously helpful in the workplace. It creates an informational resource for employees (especially new hires) that can reduce the demands placed on HR to answer questions. It provides consistent guidelines and procedures for management to follow. And it can ensure that the company remains compliant with legal regulations in its handling of employee-related matters.
But employers can’t throw together an employee handbook haphazardly and expect success. Here’s what employers need to know to create a successful employee handbook.
First, include guidance for employees related to legal issues.
Any policy or procedure related to compliance with local, state, and federal labor laws should be discussed in the employee handbook. That can include antidiscrimination policies and procedures for handling complaints; nondiscrimination agreements; and any standards of conduct. The latter category can be wide-ranging and may vary according to employer. The handbook may touch on anything from dress codes to harassment policies, from social media use to the use of personal devices in the workplace. Make sure the handbook also includes formal grievance procedures for employees to report problems they experience or witness in the workplace.
Pro tip: make sure the legal department reviews the handbook at least once a year to ensure it follows current regulatory requirements.
Second, help workers understand their rights, privileges, and obligations as an employee.
The handbook should answer the most frequently asked employee questions. Consequently, it should include information about compensation, benefits, leave policies, retirement accounts, etc. This is also an opportunity to play up what a great place the company is to work! The handbook should also explain policies and procedures related to the employee lifecycle experiences, like performance reviews, promotions, raises, bonuses, termination, and so on.
Pro tip: the handbook should be genuinely informative, but don’t box HR in with its language.
Finally, make the handbook interactive.
Make sure employees sign a statement certifying that they have received, read, and understood the handbook – and save that statement! You’ll also want to make clear that the handbook is not a legally binding employment contract. Review and update the handbook regularly, because laws, company culture, and workplace needs evolve. On that note, the handbook need not be a printed book. In fact, hosting handbook contents on your Intranet can make it easier to update individual parts as needed.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.