Most corporate employers have an employee handbook, but many do not realize how important it is for their company. On the other hand, smaller businesses often don’t have a company handbook when they definitely should have one.
An employer’s handbook can be a great resource in the event of any disputes that arise between employees and management.
In addition to outlining policies on topics such as break times, dress code, and benefits, the book should also provide information about things like workplace safety and harassment prevention. Employees need to know what they’re getting into when they start a new job — so having a comprehensive employee handbook can help them understand what is expected of them at work.
When hiring someone new or transferring from one position to another within your company, it’s always best practice to offer a copy of the employee handbook before going over any other paperwork with the employee. This is a good time to go over the handbook with them and answer any questions they might have about the policies outlined in it.
Anyone that has been working for your company should already have a copy of the handbook.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a set of guidelines and policies that govern the management and conduct of employees and management within a company. For example, the handbook typically sets out the organization’s expectations and values and information on how to dress or what to do in emergencies.
It also details disciplinary procedures for staff who disobey the policies, including warnings, sacking, and criminal prosecution. But, most commonly, it’s the managers, executives, and lawyers who write the handbook.
Why is an Employee Handbook important in a business setting
An Employee Handbook is important in a business setting. It provides employees with the guidelines and policies that govern their employment. The handbook usually sets out expectations, such as how to dress or what to do in emergencies.
It also includes disciplinary procedures for staff who disobey the policies, including warnings, sacking, and criminal prosecution. This helps everyone understand what is expected of them. It also makes it easier to fire (and hire, too!) people by clearly outlining the rules. Again, this reduces an organization’s liability.
How does an Employee Handbook affect an organization?
An Employee Handbook allows companies to communicate with their employees. It helps the company protect itself from legal liability by clarifying how the company or business wants its staff to behave in certain scenarios. In addition, a handbook can provide a reference point for managers on disciplinary procedures, while maintaining consistency throughout the organization.
For example, it can help managers decide whether to warn an employee before disciplining them, or if they should be immediately fired. It also helps employees know what is expected of them and how their behavior affects the workplace. On top of procedural information, the handbook can help with employee engagement, motivation, and burnout prevention, even in the toughest industries.
What an Employee Handbook should include
An Employee Handbook should include:
What the company expects from the employee in terms of dress code and conduct
An employee handbook needs to include what the company expects from the employee regarding dress code and conduct. It sets the expectations for employees. If a company doesn’t set out expectations, then confusion can arise. Confusion can happen when an employee starts asking questions about what is allowed or not allowed in the workplace.
A handbook keeps information clear and concise by providing a reference point for managers on disciplinary procedures.
The handbook helps maintain consistency throughout the organization. It also clarifies to employees what is expected of them and how their behavior is monitored in the workplace.
How to handle emergencies or disciplinary procedures when an employee is not following rules outlined in your handbook
Employees will now know what an emergency is, how they should report it, and who they can and should contact in the event of an emergency. The handbook should also have how disciplinary procedures are handled.
Whether or not workers are allowed to work from home
The employee handbook can help to prevent misunderstandings for most of the company or business issues.
The handbook will answer questions about whether or not workers can work or keeping when they go home. For example, if a specific team does not allow for working from home — or taking equipment home — it should be noted in the handbook.
The company might also want to specify if there is a need for an employee to travel. It’s also worth stating if there are any restrictions on job-related activities outside of office hours. These questions are very pertinent in many industries.
What technology is prohibited in the workplace
Defining what tech is allowed or not allowed at work can help ensure that employees abide by company policy. It can also help to demonstrate that employers are reasonable. Also, this paragraph might make the employee feel like they will still have some freedom outside of work hours.
Medical leave and paid vacation policy
An employee should know the employer’s policies when it comes to medical leave and paid vacation.
Knowing and understanding policy can help employees feel more confident about their work environment if they know that the employer considers other aspects outside their work hours.
The handbook can also provide general information about what is not allowed in the workplace — including social media or other non-work-related tasks outside of office hours.
Employees need to know who they can contact when there is a problem with the workplace.
If an employee or lower management doesn’t know who to speak with or how to file a complaint, it can affect their work performance and morale. Therefore, the handbook should include a step-by-step process of what-to-do-when scenarios. With these explanations in place and plainly written, employees can feel confident knowing somebody listens to their concerns and, ultimately, addresses them.
Apart from filing a complaint, your handbook should note how to give employee feedback and where.
Employees should know their company’s code of conduct and what the consequences are if they violate it. In addition, a code of conduct may assist an employee in feeling that the employer is sensible by setting standards for treatment and professionalism.
Antiharassment & antiretaliation
One of the crucial aspects of an employee handbook is to include information on anti-harassment and antiretaliation.
All employees should know that they are free from harassment or retaliation when it comes to their work environment. This information makes people feel more confident in their workplace and, in turn, makes them more productive in their tasks. An employee will also feel like they don’t have to worry about anything with regards to their job security because employers consider these things in an employee handbook.
What benefits does your organization offers, such as health insurance or alternative work arrangements
Having information about health insurance, savings plans, and alternative work situations can be important because an employee can make a subjectively bad decision when it comes to their work situation.
For example, they might decide not to take a promotion or accept an offer of employment because they are disqualified for the benefit the company offers. Therefore, it’s beneficial to have this information in the handbook so that employees don’t have to ask about these questions, thus causing extra stress about these types of decisions.
All questions are right there in the Employee Handbook where they should be.
Any additional disclaimers
When drafting an employee handbook, it is important to include any disclaimers that you deem necessary. For example, some organizations may choose to include a disclaimer about their commitment to the environment. Others can have a disclaimer about certain situations.
Most beneficial in the Employee Handbook is a declaration of company values and an acknowledgment or assertion about their commitment to treating people with honesty and respect. Some companies may wish to give examples of how to follow the company’s set of values.
Just about anything that fits with your company values can be listed in your Employee Handbook.
How to make your Employee Handbook easy to read and understand
It’s necessary to include explanations that are easy to read and understand so that the employee handbook isn’t hard to follow.
If your Employee Handbook is too difficult to read — or too long — people will either not read it or they will only skim through the information and might miss some important details.
You can also categorize some of your rules into different sections so that people only have to look at specific parts of the handbook instead of reading the entire thing.
It’s also important to make sure that it is easy on the eyes. You can use bullet points, headings, subheadings, and images to make your employee handbook easier to read. Any part of your handbook that helps with readability issues will help your people comprehend the rules more efficiently.
You will want your employees to be able to follow along with your organization’s policies in the easiest way possible, and you can give examples in your handbook.
What to do if someone violates the rules of the handbook
When someone violates the rules of the handbook, management must reprimand in some way. If possible, try to help the employee understand why they were wrong and what they should do instead. Some examples should already be in your handbook as an illustration of what you expect in behaviors.
When a leader or manager can explain what went wrong and how to correct the behavior, this procedure is helpful for both management and employee. It shows that you’re willing to work with them to improve themselves for the future. It also might be helpful to offer an alternative action so that this doesn’t happen again in the future.
Finally, the Employee Handbook is a living document
As your company grows and changes, it’s important to make sure you’re updating your employee handbook accordingly. This includes:
- Adding new services or products.
- Highlighting specific company values that haven’t been mentioned before.
- Changing benefits associated with prospective employees joining the organization.
Digitizing the handbook is also a good idea. Digitization will make it easier for the employees to read it. You can also have a digital copy for new employees to check that they have read the information in the Employee Handbook as part of their onboarding process. This process will save many questions and issues down the road.
We hope that this article has given you some useful insight into the importance of having an Employee Handbook. An employee handbook can help your company clarify its policies for employees. Answer any questions your employees might have about their work environment or daily tasks. An Employee Handbook saves a lot of time and prevents many uncertainties on both sides — it’s a great thing to have as a staple in your business.
Image Credit: provided by the author; wavy bus single; freepik; thank you!