The importance of an Employee Handbook
Creating a company employee handbook can seem like a daunting task, but having one brings many benefits. It establishes how a company complies with employment legislation, the standards it expects from management and employees within the organisation, and how complaints from the employee or organisation will be addressed.
6 Reasons why your organisation should have an Employee Handbook:
1. Introduces employees to your ethos and values
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of your handbook is to clearly communicate to new employees what your company goals and values are.
• What do we do that sets us apart?
• How did the company get here?
• What are we passionate about?
It is important to the success of the business that new employees ‘buy-in’ to the company objectives.
2. Communicates to employees what is expected of them
A well-written handbook provides employees with a clear understanding of the working relationship and emphasises the organisation’s expectations. It informs employees about:
• The procedures for requesting time off or a holiday.
• Procedures for unscheduled absence (sickness), whom they should contact, and what the timing should be.
• The key people in the organisation to turn to if they have any questions or concerns.
• Expectations regarding employee behaviour
• Employee dress code (e.g. uniform or casual Fridays)
The handbook also serves as an extension of the organisation’s policies and procedures. By providing clear, accessible information, handbooks ensure that everyone knows exactly what’s required of them and allows employers to present their expectations in a comprehensible and consistent manner.
3. Ensure key company policies are clearly and consistently communicated
A handbook should accurately communicate your organisation’s policies regarding employment, conduct and behaviour, compensation, and other policies and procedures you follow. Most employee handbooks will include the following:
• Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedure
• Drug and Alcohol Policy
• Staff Telephone, Email and Internet Policy (including the use of personal mobiles)
• Equal Opportunities Policy
• Flexible Working Procedure
• Grievance Procedure
• Health and Safety Policy
• Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental Leave
• Redundancy Procedure
• Staff Sickness and Absence Policy
• Data Protection Policy
• Whistleblowing Policy
Most importantly, managers can refer to the handbook when answering questions or making decisions and ensure their answers and actions are consistent with your policies and best practices.
4. The benefits you offer
Does your organisation offer paid lunch breaks, health insurance, paid parental leave or any other benefits to employees? Ensure employees are aware of these benefits and the eligibility requirements by documenting them in the handbook.
5. Guidance for managers
Employers can use employee handbooks as a way of providing managers/supervisors with guidance on key management policies, such as staff performance and corrective action and interviewing and hiring guidelines. All managers can use these guidelines to ensure they deal with things consistently.
(Note: Many employers have separate versions of the employee handbook prepared for their managers/supervisors containing this additional information).
6. Helps defend against employee claims
One of the most useful documents you can provide to defend against a legal claim will be a copy of your employee handbook. A comprehensive and compliant employee handbook will demonstrate that the company exercised “reasonable care” towards its employees and reaffirm that company policies and procedures were in place at the time of the claim.
Lastly, it is important to keep your staff handbook up to date, and we would recommend reviewing it once a year to take into account changes in the law.
When was the last time you reviewed or updated your employee handbook? Do you need help creating one but aren’t sure where to start? The team at ELiAction can review and update your company handbooks and policies for you or create them from scratch. Call 01494 817193 or visit: https://www.eliaction.com/handbooks-and-policies/