The Importance of a Great Company Handbook
1) Introduces Employees to the Organization’s Culture, Mission, and Values
Perhaps the most important aspect of your Employee Handbook is the introduction of new employees to your corporate culture and how they will fit in. This helps to foster a sense of pride and belonging, which studies show will help employees become more productive in a shorter period of time.
2) Communicates to Employees What is Expected of Them
A well-written handbook provides employees with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. The handbook also serves as a compass for the organization’s policies and procedures. The handbook also communicates an employee’s general responsibilities regarding safety, timekeeping, reporting, and so on. By providing this clear, accessible information, handbooks ensure companies continue moving in the right direction.
3) Educates Employees About What They Can Expect From Management and Leadership
An employee handbook clarifies company objectives and leadership styles, as well as management best practices, to foster healthy management-employee relationships. It also outlines logistics, such as timekeeping requirements, hours of work, pay periods, and so on. Further, a complete employee handbook advises employees of their various entitlements to federal and state leaves, such as FMLA or Jury Service Leave. These clearly communicated policies help to eliminate confusion and inconsistencies that result when handbooks are silent on these topics.
4) Helps Ensure Key Company Policies are Clearly and Consistently Communicated
No policy is effective if it is practiced inconsistently. A handbook will accurately communicate your organization’s policies regarding employment, conduct and behavior, compensation, and other policies and procedures your organization follows. Most importantly, managers can refer to the handbook when answering questions or making decisions regarding your policies, and ensure their answers and actions are consistent with your policies and best practices.
5) Showcases the Benefits the Organization Offers
Does your organization offer vacations, 401k, health insurance, paid parental leave, or other benefits to employees? Make sure they know about these policies and the eligibility requirements by communicating them in the handbook. A robust benefits package can help you retain your best and brightest employees, so be sure they know about your full suite of offerings by communicating these in the handbook.
6) Ensures Compliance with Federal and State Laws
No matter what state you do business in, or how many employees you have, you will be subject to state and federal employment laws. Your handbook not only communicates these various entitlements and obligations to employees, but is useful in demonstrating that your organization strives to be compliant with these regulations. Similar policies should communicate rights and obligations regarding state disability leaves, federal FMLA leave, and other government mandates.
7) Helps Defend Against Employee Claims
Unfortunately, employers should consider it a matter of when, and not if, they will face a lawsuit or similar challenge from a current or former employee. When this happens, one of the most useful documents you can provide your attorney or third party investigator will be a copy of your handbook. A thorough and compliant employee handbook will help to show that the organization had written and distributed policies. The employee’s signed acknowledgement page will show that the employee had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the organization’s policies, a chance to ask related questions, knew whom they could turn to for help within the organization, and agreed to follow the terms and conditions of employment set forth by the organization.
8) Lets Employees Know Where to Turn for Help
Ultimately, you want employees to feel comfortable turning to a trusted member of management for help when they want to report workplace violations, get workplace-related assistance, and get answers to any other questions they may have. TWhen a handbook not only outlines one or two management individuals for an employee to turn to in these situations, but also designates another individual to turn to in the event the employee disagrees with the first decision, they are more likely to keep their complaints in-house, and this is a good thing for employers.
After Your Handbook is Created
After our HR Guides complete your custom employee handbook, it is time to distribute. The distribution to and acknowledgment of the handbook by employees is just as important as the actual compilation of the document.
Traditionally, handbooks are printed and a copy is distributed to each employee or a ‘master’ hard copy was retained in a common workplace area. In today’s modern world, another option is to utilize a digital HR service,Guhroo is great one, which allows the company to electronically store the handbook, grant access to employees to read the document, gather electronic signatures of acknowledgment from employees, and store those acknowledgments of receipt. Whether you choose to distribute hard copies or electronic versions of the employee handbook, you must validate that each employee has received and has had an opportunity to review and acknowledge receipt of the handbook.
While not required by law, employers should require employees to sign the employee handbook acknowledgment form upon hire and whenever the existing handbook is updated. The purpose of a signed acknowledgment is to demonstrate that the employee has not only received the handbook but also acknowledges the organization’s workplace policies. Depending on the language contained in the acknowledgment form, signing this document indicates that the employee understands the at-will statement and that the employee does not have an employment contract with the company.