Ah, the employee handbook. Some employees pour over them and know each word by heart. Others are like, “We have a handbook? No way!” and then go back to their emails, never to take a single look.
How do you write an employee handbook that is both engaging to employees (so they reference it when needed) AND includes all the legal tidbits you need to keep your company in compliance and out of the courtroom?
Writing and maintaining a company handbook can seem daunting if you’re not a compliance nerd (like me), but it’s honestly not that hard to do and is SO crucial to reducing risk to your business. Writing or updating a handbook takes time and collaboration with key stakeholders within your company, but once it’s completed and your employees have signed off, you can truly start relying on it to do some heavy lifting in terms of risk management, communication with employees, setting expectations, and the day-to-day functioning of your business.
So, is your employee handbook up to snuff?
What a good handbook does:
- Engages employees with clear language, logical organization, and simple visuals.
- Includes those all-important “a** covering” policies (yeah, I said it) such as: employment-at-will, FMLA, no-call no-show policies, office romance, and anti-sexual harassment training.
- Helps your HR team navigate tricky situations and ensure they’re staying consistent with administering policies.
- Is vague enough so the company isn’t painting itself into a corner, and it doesn’t need updating more than once a year (cause ain’t nobody got time for more than that).
- Includes all those “random” policies you’ve come up with over the years that you make onboarding team members sign separately because it’s easier than a total overhaul of the handbook.
- Has an acknowledgement and agreement sign-off for the employee to complete upon onboarding and each time you update the handbook.
- Reflects your culture and company values.
What a handbook that needs some love may look like:
- It’s not updated with important policies and procedures (or federal / state laws) that have changed within the last year.
- There are policies in the handbook that are not enforced.
- You have recurrent issues (behavioral or procedural) with your employees that are not addressed anywhere in the handbook.
- It’s as large and weighs as much as the encyclopedia.
- Your HR team doesn’t keep a printed copy on or near their desks for reference.
Employee handbooks are such incredibly important tools to any business – big and small. There are lots of online systems out there that can help you assemble a generic employee handbook in just a few hours. If you’re a small business with no current existing handbook, we hope you look into this option! If you’re a growth-minded business or have some complicated policies or issues, we hope you consider reaching out to Montani Consulting. Believe it or not, our HR experts geek out on handbook creation, so we’re here to help however we can.