An employee handbook or manual contains information on a company’s policies and procedures. An effectively written manual is an excellent resource, allowing you to spend more time running your business and less time teaching your employees about your policy. This will help to smooth the onboarding process and give both employees and management common ground when dealing with company issues.
There are many benefits to an employment manual. Here are some of the main ones:
- A well-written, comprehensive manual establishes thought-out, well-defined standards and procedures to be applied on a company-wide basis.
- A manual provides a vehicle for the employer to distribute these standards to new and current employees.
- A manual establishes a common understanding of the expectations the employer has for his/her employees.
- By having policies set in writing and giving a copy to all employees, business owners reduce their risk of employee lawsuits—assuming they follow their policies and procedures.
Here are some of the most common sections included in an employee handbook.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Conflict of Interest Statements
- Anti-Discrimination Policies
- Work Schedules
- Standards of Conduct
- General Employment Information
- Safety and Security
- Computers and Technology
- Media Relations
- Employee Benefits
- Leave Policies
As with all things related to your business, you need to exercise caution and good judgment when creating your employee handbook. Write concisely and precisely. Do not use confusing, verbose language and try to avoid legal jargon as much as possible, as this could confuse your staff.
While employee handbooks can be a good tool to protect your business from lawsuit and liability, a handbook that is not updated in a timely manner may do more harm than good. Update your handbook regularly as your policies change and as laws governing your business practices change. It may be wise to set a yearly review date to look over the manual to ensure accuracy and find any sections that need to be updated.
Be sure to use your law firm and business consultants when constructing your handbook. It never hurts to have someone take a second look. See an example employee handbook created using the Human Resources Document Builder in the GoSmallBiz.com Toolbox here. If you need access to Gosmallbiz.com, contact your benefits specialist at Navigant Advisory Group for access.