Creating an employee handbook for the first time can be a daunting and tedious task. Just the thought of writing an innumerable number of words to explain everything about your trade and your specific business is, without a doubt, tiring. Compared to start-up and small-scale companies, established corporations almost always have handbooks readily printed to be given to welcome new employees upon hiring.
But just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you will never need an employee handbook. The employee handbook is essential to every business, regardless of size and industry. It serves as a guide for proper business operations and acts as a tool to safeguard your company, employees, and customers from various risks and liabilities.
The employee handbook is a compilation of company policies, protocols, core values, rules and regulations, employment laws, code of conduct, and much more. Furthermore, it facilitates easy communication between you and your employees, so they know what’s expected from them and from you as the business owner.
The best employee handbook should protect your small business from legal liabilities that could arise from day-to-day operations. Although it will never provide the same level of protection obtained from insurance policies such as Employment Practices Liability Insurance, Errors & Omissions, and Directors & Officers policies, having one on hand is useful enough when faced with challenging situations.
No one wants to read a boring, dry, and stiff handbook that is mostly written in a concise and uninteresting manner. Most business owners tend to forget the importance of setting the tone and attitude, but rather focus more on what should be included in an employee handbook. While content is important, the person reading it should hopefully see it as something important and enjoyable.
Starting from your mission statement, set the tone in an upbeat and entertaining manner without losing the handbook’s valued professionalism. Keep in mind that this is the first document your employees will receive and you want to make sure that they read the handbook.
Just as the products and services of small businesses are diverse, every employee handbook is different. Although there are tons of outlined examples out there, you may even have one from your previous job, you can’t simply print this off and distribute it to your employees. The best employee handbooks define the company’s uniqueness, and it should reflect the spirit of the business in a distinctive and exclusive manner.
It is a given fact that most employee handbooks are all crafted the same. The topics and information convey similar content, but you’ll need to review and adjust each section to match the specifics of your business. So what should be included in an employee handbook? Check out these essential elements below:
Most businesses skip this step, thinking of it as an added cost rather than a form of protection. But the truth of the matter is that having an attorney or your trusted law firm review your employee handbook ensures that all state and federal laws are correctly followed. Additionally, it gives you the following advantages:
The best employee handbook should be updated annually. Laws and regulations are ever-changing, and you may need to update it with any situations that have come up during the past year. If a new ruling now restricts you from carrying out practices that were allowed last year, the change should be reflected in the handbook.