(You need a lot more than in a traditional handbook!)
There are many terms thrown around the HR space: employee handbook, manual, pamphlet, and review. Same, same but different.
Although there are various terms used, they all have the same goal for your business—security and prevention.
At Culture Works, we receive a lot of questions about employee handbooks, manuals, whatever the heck you want to call them!
Some common questions we receive include:
- What is an employee handbook?
- Does my small business need a handbook?
- What should be included in my employee handbook?
- What should I avoid while creating an employee handbook?
- How often should I restructure the handbook?
So, let’s take a closer look into why employee handbooks are essential for any business, and how they can transform your business’s workforce planning.
What is an Employee Handbook?
Simply put, an employee handbook is a book or online PDF containing employee and employer guidelines to reference for all job-related information.
No matter the size of the business, an employee handbook is a necessary tool. (We understand that as a small business, you wear a lot of hats for the company, but this doesn’t mean an employee handbook should take the backburner).
In general, an employee handbook is reviewed and signed when a new hire is onboarded. Although the handbook is primarily used for onboarding, it’s important to acknowledge that an employee handbook is not only a resource for employees but is also a resource for employers as well.
Additionally, having a thorough, up-to-date HR handbook can reduce your business’s insurance costs. Clearly, there are many pros to having an employee handbook, regardless of business size.
What Should be Included in an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is normally a large document with guidelines covering the following topics:
- Equal Opportunity Guidelines
- Company Culture
- Paid Time Off (PTO) and Holiday Time
- Job Expectations
- Company Mission Statement
- Company Policies
- Work Performance Expectations
- Who to Contact if an Issue Arises
Surprisingly enough, employee handbooks are not required by law. They are, however, as we’ve noted, very helpful and highly recommended.
Most HR representatives consider the employer’s handbook as an active document, which means that throughout the year, notes can be added and reviewed when policies and employment laws change.
What Should I Avoid When Creating an Employee Handbook?
Creating and maintaining employee manuals in California is more difficult than in other states. This is because policies and guidelines are constantly being adjusted.
It’s almost impossible to keep up, which is why adding notes and using the employee handbook as an active document is a helpful practice to follow.
Ideally, an employee handbook should be written by an HR consultant or professional, or an employment attorney. Although there are tools that can help employers build a handbook, it’s better to practice to collaborate with a professional.
Forbes lists common mistakes that are made when creating an employee handbook, and they are worth paying attention to. Key takeaways include:
- Not having a process for reconstructing the handbook
- Using the handbook as a form of control
- Failing to notify employees if there are changes to the handbook
- Using only a template
- Vague language
Again, your company mission and values should align with the handbook.
When Should You Review Your Employee Handbook?
The simple answer? Always.
Again, most HR representatives see the handbook as an active document. This means that throughout the year when policies and general guidelines change, notes can be added and reviewed.
An employee handbook is most helpful when constantly added to and reviewed. This way, the handbook will stay perfectly up-to-date without annual revisions, which is important if an issue arises. A handbook is a great reference point.
A Final Word
As an employer, it can be helpful to see the employee handbook as a resource, not just another box to check off the list.
It should essentially be seen as a big information source. There is a lot of information to keep track of as an employer. If an employee gets called to jury duty, for example, do they receive paid time off? Check the employee handbook.If you’re a small business and haven’t officially created an employee handbook, it would be helpful to contact an HR professional to assist in the process. Read our blog, “Small Businesses: How to know when you need HR” for more information.