Employee Handbooks: Why You Need One

August 8th, 2012

Employee handbooks are a great tool to have in your HR arsenal. There will never be an end to employee questions about policies or situations where the rules will need to be interpreted. Here are 10 tips for creating an employee handbook or improving one that you already use.

  1. Have it reviewed by a lawyer. To ensure everything in your handbook is appropriate and legally correct, have your policies reviewed by a lawyer who specializes in the industry. Policies are easy to misinterpret, so protect yourself by using clear and legally appropriate language.
  2. Follow federal and state laws. A lawyer can help you understand if your policy complies with federal and state employment laws.  There will be a lot of subtle details that a lawyer can walk you through.
  3. Keep it short. Thick tomes of rules will go unread. Reviewing it should be easy for employees. Provide a table of contents and index so it is easy to look up specific policies.
  4. Detail the procedures for reporting issues. The text needs to include the steps to take to report an issue such as harassment or discrimination.
  5. Review handbooks of similar companies. There is no need to recreate the wheel. Consider handbooks from other similar companies in scope or size. This will give you an idea of what subjects will be important to your employees.
  6. Update regularly. Laws change and policies should too. Set aside time once a year to evaluate your handbook and update anything that may have changed or to make an existing policy more clear.
  7. Include a disclaimer. It is impossible to foresee every potential situation that will occur in your company.  Make sure employees know that the handbook is not comprehensive but rather a general guideline. Without such a disclaimer, the handbook can be seen as a contract and can cause legal roadblocks if anyone ever decides to take an action against the company.
  8. Use professional and easy-to-understand language. Experts suggest hiring a writer with a human resources background to craft the handbook.
  9. Ensure employee awareness. A sudden introduction of a handbook can send a message that you are not happy with your employees’ current conduct. Communicate that the handbook has been introduced to enforce policies already in place. Once it is implemented, new hires must receive a copy or know the location of the handbook in the office.
  10. Verify that everyone has a copy or access. Each employee or new hire should sign a document indicating they have read the handbook. Let them know the handbook is there to protect them on the job.

Want more information on how to create an effective human resources program in your office? Contact the professionals as Meador Staffing today!