An employee handbook is a very important set of documentation. It serves as the user manual or terms of service for your company. A well-written guide will stop an argument or potential lawsuit in its tracks as it is used as a point of reference for what is expected behavior for employees. It also sets forth your company’s mission statement as a standard for all. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to create an employee handbook.
Start by using a free guideline such as this handbook template found at the Society for Human Resource Management. Your employee handbook should include a mission statement, and detailed pay and benefits, while also covering all legal requirements. Present it when completed, either in a binder that is appealing and easy to store at each workstation or as an interactive digital document. It should be within easy reach for future reference, and most importantly, kept up to date.
Begin with a mission statement
Start with a brief section that explains the purpose of the employee handbook and a concise background as to how the company came to be. Then, describe why the business exists and what is expected to be accomplished in the future. This section should clearly spell out your company’s goals and core values, and express what makes your business stand out from others. What sets your company apart and makes it a desirable place to work?
Detailed pay and benefits
Don’t assume your employees know things that seem basic to you. Address and focus on what the company has to offer as well as details about what taxes and deductions are taken out of paychecks. Clarify what is considered full-time or part-time employment and how to report hours worked, especially if one of your benefits is to work from home or remotely. Explain when paychecks are sent out and how they are delivered. Also, lay out all of the company perks, such as vacation or sick days, savings plans, company matching contribution programs, health insurance, medical leave and expense reimbursement policies, as well as how unexpected absences should be handled. Make the path to how to attain success within your organization clear, including information on when performance reviews will take place, what is expected to maintain employment and how to receive a raise or promotion.
Cover the legalities
Throughout your draft process and ultimately the final edition of the handbook, work with an attorney to ensure you properly address all of the legally required aspects of your individual state’s labor laws. This section should include information about Equal Employment Opportunities, disability, religious accommodations, and information about receiving and reporting tips or commissions. Address health, safety, emergency, sexual harassment, anti-discrimination, drug testing and substance abuse, as well as work-related injury policies. Also, include your company’s policy regarding the possession of weapons. Be absolutely certain that your organization abides by OSHA guidelines and sets forth behavioral and employee conduct expectations along with the course of discipline for not following the code of conduct. Include what is expected in terms of dress code, social media use, confidentiality, and smoking during work time. Finally, the employee handbook should always cover the separation policies for voluntary and involuntary termination of employment. After employees have read through the manual and understand the contents, make sure they sign to indicate their acceptance of the guidelines.
This article was written by Tere Scott for Small Business Pulse