Importance of an Employee Handbook
Posted on Wednesday February 14, 2018 in CS3 Client Bootcamp by Holly Novak.

 

Employee handbooks should be a staple to any business, large or a small. While a small employer may not fully see the need for an employee handbook, there are many key reasons that your handbook should exist!

So how does your handbook benefit you as an employer as well as your employees? The first way is that it introduces employees to your culture, mission and values.

One might argue that the most important aspect of your employee handbook is the introduction of new employees to your corporate culture and how they will fit in. Studies show that employees become more productive in a shorter period of time when they have a sense of pride and belonging in their work.

The introduction section of an employee handbook will answer these questions:
“What do we do that sets us apart?”
“How did the company get here?”
“What are we passionate about?”
“How can I, as a new hire, become a part of this culture?”

Providing this information at the beginning sets the standard for the employment relationship in general, and provides a guidepost for the remaining policies communicated in the handbook.

The next way that a Handbook is valuable as a tool in your organization is that it communicates to employees what is expected of them.

A well-written handbook provides employees with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. The handbook also serves as a compass for the organization’s policies and procedures. For instance, it directs employees what the procedures are for requesting time off or a vacation. It advises employees whom they should contact when they have an unscheduled absence. It tells employees whom to go to if they have questions about any of the specific policies in the handbook.

One key aspect and goal of an Employee Handbook should be to communicate Expectations.
Use your handbook to show employees what to expect from leadership and then also communicate policies consistently.

Your employees desire to know what they can expect from management and leadership. Take the time to lay out your handbook so that it provides the following:
  • It should outline logistics, such as timekeeping requirements, hours of work and pay periods.
  • Also, a complete employee handbook advises employees of their various entitlements to federal and state leaves, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Jury Service Leave. These clearly communicated policies help to eliminate confusion and inconsistencies that result when handbooks are silent on these topics.

Speaking of Policies and Procedures, no policy is effective if it is practiced inconsistently!
A handbook will accurately communicate your organization’s policies regarding employment, conduct and behavior, compensation, Employee Complaints and other policies and procedures you follow. Then also use your handbook as a way to promote the Employee Benefits that you offer! Most importantly, managers can refer to the handbook when answering questions or making decisions regarding your policies and ensure their answers and actions are consistent with your policies and best practices.

I love this quote that says that “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person - not just an employee - are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
Employees will know that that their organization cares for them if they believe that the company is in compliance with federal and state laws. Regardless of what state you do business in, or how many employees you have, you will be subject to state and federal employment laws. Your handbook not only communicates these various entitlements and obligations to employees, but is useful in demonstrating that your organization strives to be compliant with these regulations. Your policies should clearly communicate rights and obligations regarding state disability leaves, federal FMLA leave, and other government mandates.

Finally, and vital for you to understand – your handbook lets employees know where to turn for help!

Ultimately, you want employees to feel comfortable turning to a trusted member of management for help when they want to report workplace violations, obtain workplace-related assistance and get answers to any other questions they may have. The alternative is for them to turn to an outside third party, like the EEOC or DOL, which could trigger a costly and time-consuming investigation.

Your handbook should include:
  • A clear path to employee complaints and a 2nd or 3rd management person in the event that the employee is not comfortable with their first choice.
  • A clear way for employee to report workplace violations, and
  • How your employees ask for workplace assistance and/or accommodation

When was the last time you reviewed your policies and updated your employee handbook? Or do you need help creating one but aren't sure where to start? If so, our experts at CS3 Advisors would love to assist you!

 



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