Imagine driving to work one morning with no street signs or traffic lights to guide you. You would be super cautious every time you came to an intersection, and chances are good you’d be pulling your hair by the time you got to work due to the stress.
Lights, signs and programmed systems create order and make navigating the trip easier. The same applies to having an employee handbook for your business.
Without one, rules and expectations aren’t clear, creating potential issues down the road. Having an employee handbook, however, provides a system of policies, processes, accountability, protection and even disciplinary steps whenever an employee exceeds the speed limit, so to speak.
… employee handbooks aren’t just for new employees? They are a roadmap for all employees. If you create a handbook for the first time when you have existing employees, it’s good practice to walk all employees through the same process you would a new hire.
Just in case my driving analogy isn’t inspiring you, here are several additional reasons you should create an employee handbook for your business:
Reason #1: Sets a professional tone. When you provide employees with a document detailing what you expect from them at work, it sends a message that you take policies and procedures seriously. And when you enforce those policies, it’s clear to everyone that you desire a professional and accountable workplace.
Reason #2: Sends a message that you care about employee well-being. There’s comfort in knowing rules exist for everyone to follow — especially for your top employees who follow the rules daily. Witnessing others break rules with no accountability for their actions might send a message that you don’t appreciate employees who do the right thing. Holding all employees accountable to the same standards benefits everyone.
Reason #3: Clearly describes behavioral expectations. Your handbook can present acceptable behavior and, just as important, behavior that is unacceptable. Describing disciplinary action in detail also informs employees of the consequences should they fail to uphold your stated standards.
Reason #4: Assures managers you have a system that supports them. When managers know you have rules supporting their ability to hold employees accountable, it makes their jobs easier. Without a system to manage employees who are underperforming or out of line, you open your business to potential lawsuits, not to mention frustrated managers.
Reason #5: Encourages fair treatment. While it’s not realistic for handbooks to offer precise instructions on every problem, they should provide a solid framework for managers to follow. Reviewing your policies with managers annually ensures that everyone is aware that fair treatment is a daily expectation. This way, all employees are treated fairly and consistently which, again, can help protect you against lawsuits.
Reason #6: Provides safety for employees. When policies dictate what is and isn’t acceptable, employees clearly know when a line is crossed. For example, in harassment situations, employees will find comfort in knowing your policies will protect them through a process of reporting, protection and discipline for the offender.
Reason #7: Protects company against employee claims. Without policies or processes to document and manage improvement or discipline, it’s often your word against the employee’s in a court of law. Having your policies clearly outlined — including how you document and discipline — means you have an extra layer of protection should an employee claim escalate.
Now that you understand how employee handbooks benefit your business, the next step is creating one. Here’s what you should include in yours:
This may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. The web-based Company Policies Smart App provides recommended policies for businesses to implement based on federal and state laws. Each policy is attorney-approved and editable, so you can add specific details and make changes that pertain to your business. Just as important, you can view when employees have read and acknowledged your policies.