I've created a lot of employee handbooks over the years. Many times I am asked to create a handbook from scratch for a client that is starting up a new business, or for a client that simply never had one before. Other times I am asked to review and revise a client's handbook, which is a critical step in an Employee Handbook Program. That's right, Employee Handbook Program.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An Employee Handbook is a very important communication tool between the employer and the employee. It typically contains information about the company culture, its workplace polices and procedures, and benefits overviews. It also contains many of the employer's compliance and legal obligations that employees should - and have the right to - understand. A well-written employee handbook will help employees understand what is expected of them, and what they can expect from the employer.
What is an Employee Handbook Program?
I think all employers should have an Employee Handbook "Program." An Employee Handbook Program includes: the initial creation of the handbook; then periodic (at least annual) reviews and revisions necessary to accommodate changes in company procedures and policies. Some policies may be introduced, and others may be terminated. There's also the introduction of, or changes to employment laws which need to be addressed.
Beware the Most Common Employee Handbook Mistakes
Employers who undertake a well-intended effort at creating their own handbooks often make critical and potentially-costly mistakes like non-compliance with employment laws, inconsistent language and style, omission of critical topics, inclusion of too much information, content that is out of sync with current best practices, and more. These mistakes can result in employee morale issues, lack of productivity, turnover, safety problems, and even litigation.
Is an Employee Handbook Even Required?
Well, no. Employers are actually not required by any law to even have an employee handbook. However, there are many aspects of employment that are mandated by laws, such as payment of wages, overtime payment, meal breaks, continuation of health insurance coverage, harassment in the workplace, workers compensation, and much more. So having an employee handbook is in the best interest of the employee and the employer alike to ensure both you and your employees understand what is expected in the workplace. And should a question arise, the employee handbook is the quickest and most consistent way to find the answers you both need.
So what is the Bottom Line on Employee Handbooks?
Alliant Human Resources recommends that all employers, regardless of size, have a well-written, compliant handbook. And, as long as you are going to have an employee handbook, you should have an Employee Handbook Program so that it is written properly from the start, and reviewed and revised on a regular basis.