How to Create an Employee Handbook That Staff Will Want To Read

Create an Employee Handbook That Staff Will Want To Read

One of the most important steps you can take as an employer will be the energy you put into the creation of an employee handbook.  Regulating employee’s standard codes of ethics through an employee handbook should be on the top of your human resource departments “to-do” list.

Employee handbooks are the backbone to how a company expresses the way employees are to present themselves in their job performance and the way they are expected to treat others. Other names such as, “employee manual”, “policy and procedure handbook” and “staff rules and regulations, etc, are often used but they all serve the same purpose.

In today’s workplace, laws are forever changing to protect employees from being mistreated and abused.  A well-written employee handbook also serves as a protector for the employer during the on boarding process of new hires.

Why it is important

No matter what you name it, it is imperative that your company incorporate a well-crafted employee handbook that will serve as a:

  • A standard means of communication between an employer, new hires, and existing staff detailing expectations from both parties.
  • A method of providing legal documentation referring to sexual harassment, EEOC, and safety policies

Establishing rules and regulations is necessary but not if the employee is unaware that they exist or fail to have a complete understanding of what they mean. Verbal acknowledgment of standards and policies is great but having documented proof of their existence makes it simpler to enforce when needed.

What are the best paths to take in getting the point across to your employees what you expect of them and their conduct in the workplace? Here are a few examples that you should consider:

  • When is the best time to discuss company rules?The best time to review company rules and regulations is before the employee has the chance to break them. Employee handbooks are used for this purpose upon hiring as well as reminders for current employees during periodic intervals.
  • Oral communication: Oral communications is excellent in that it gives you and an employee the chance to have an open discussion. On the downside, it is almost impossible to document the conversations if you should need it for future reference.
  • Written documentation of rules:Having written documentation of the policies you enforce has its advantages. One, it gives you proof that the employee has received the information and should have a clear understanding of what you expect. However, once it is writing, changes that may arise are hard to correct.

What should you include in an employee handbook?

A company employee handbook serves several purposes and can represent a business in various forms.  When you are creating the layout for your employee manual, be sure to keep the information short and to the point without a lot of added jargon.

The following are the most relevant sections you should consider installing into your employees, beginning with:

  • Company Overview:Use this section to introduce your business details such as, ethics, goals, history philosophy and management. Only a few paragraphs should be in this section.
  • Nondiscrimination clause: If your business doesn’t have in place a proper provision outlining what is considered discrimination, you should implement one in a well-outlined section of the employee handbook.
  • Work Hours:In this section you need to list the designated days deemed to be a work week as well as the time allotted per shift. Be sure to mention your rules on lunch and break times required.
  • Performance and Pay: Due to there being typical differences in pay, you should not list sensitive pay issues that may arise, such as, using exact numbers and targets for raises. List general information such as pay schedules, how a paycheck is received, classification of full-time and part-time employment, sick leave, overtime and unpaid leave.

In this section you would also discuss performance evaluations, who conducts the assessment and the time frame evaluations will take place. (i.e. six months, one year, etc,)

  • Leave and benefits: In this section you will want to be as detailed as possible without making the content too “wordy”. Be sure to include policies on all types of leave, including, sick, personal, family, military, maternity, medical, the death of loved ones, along with vacation.

Be sure to outline whether there are probation periods enforced and what benefits the employee is entitled. If insurance is an offered benefit, be sure to describe the details of the employer’s responsibility as well as the employees.

You will also want to include descriptions for all insurances(if applicable) such as dental, health, life, disability.

  • Profit-sharing and pension: Discuss whether the company offers a private pension plan and if so how the employee contributes, when is the employee eligible, and at what point does an employee become invested.Private pensions, financial services and retirement plans are also listed here.
  • The standard code of conduct and ethics: The most important reason to have an excellent employee handbook is so that all employees understand what you expect from staff members. Use this section to outline your policy on timeliness and dress codes, sexual and racial discrimination, the use of tobacco, drugs and alcohol on the premises, and drug testing.
  • Termination: The dismissal of an employee can often be an uncomfortable and challenging decision to make that could involve recourse and risks. It is important that you list all guidelines your company considers grounds for termination.

The more you have documented the better guidelines you will have if and when there comes a time where an employee is at risk of losing his/her job. Due to many of the reasons listed above, you will want to ensure that your company cannot be held liable for improper dismissal due to discrimination or harassment.

It is important that you, the business owner adhere to a good employee handbook to avoid conflict and misunderstandings of what it is you expect from your employees and what they can expect in return. During the hiring process many companies choose to go over the handbook verbally and have a supervisor sign off with the new hire that they have read and understood the contents.

Having clear documentation approved by an employee will offer your company proof if legal repercussions were to arise for any reason.  If new state laws come into play, remember always to update the changes to protect you and your employees.