A successful employee handbook should be a comprehensive guide touching on subjects from the company’s culture to company policies, while serving as HR risk control. It’s critical that the handbook acts as such in order to implement proper risk management for both the employee and employer.
Everyone in the company, from new hires to managers, should utilize the employee handbook as a valuable reference. The base outline of your handbook should include background information on your company and its culture; employee and company rights; operational procedures; employee benefits; responsibility for safety; at-will status; and employee expectations. This guidebook sets a precedent from each employee’s first day onward, so it’s important to be realistic with company expectations while allowing some room for interpretation of circumstances. The guide shouldn’t be excessive or have complex language, because the point is to communicate, not confuse. You might want to look at other companies for inspiration to find the balance between work and fun.
If you’re a small business or start up and you’re worried that having an employee handbook will ruin the casual and intimate feel that is a part of your business, don’t be! See it as a courtesy to your employees as well. You’re giving them the law of the land so they can learn the ropes a little faster. Plus, it serves as a safeguard for them, too, since the handbook should also cover benefits and leave; workers’ compensation; non-discrimination policies; and family medical leave policies.
Now that you’ve laid the foundation, it’s time to build up! This is the time to do a risk assessment: take into account all possible risks your company faces, evaluate them, and put policy in place to remove that risk entirely. Unifying the company’s HR and risk management resources by documenting them as a part of the employee handbook is vastly beneficial. There’s a 12% chance your company will receive an employee lawsuit, so you’ll want to make sure there is language in place to protect your company in the long run.
Whether you’ve had an employee handbook for a while or this is a first draft, consider reaching out to your employees for feedback. Since they’re the ones adhering to the procedures, they might have some valuable insight on how to adjust for better workflow and customer experience.
Before you send your new employee handbook off to the printer, you need to make sure the document is legally sound. Have a resource, such as a company that offers business advisory services, help address your specific employee handbook questions to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws. After you’re settled on the HR front, you should also have it reviewed by legal counsel since, as mentioned earlier, it is likely to be used as a reference during legal challenge. With this in mind, you should regularly monitor and update policies as they become outdated or new ones are implemented. Or better, find an HR resource that proactively notifies you of any updates your specific organization should be aware of.
Don’t forget the last step of this process: read, sign, and file. Every employee should sign an acknowledgment agreement stating they received, read and understand the handbook. This is the bow on top of a successful employee handbook, and essential to secure risk management.
Risks are inevitable, but succumbing to them doesn’t have to be. Taking the time to create this comprehensive employee handbook is a vital risk management tool to protect your company and its longevity.