Employers should always review employee handbooks and ensure that their policies are up to date with the latest employment and labor laws. This is especially important in 2021, as COVID-19 may have prompted changes to an employer’s workplace policies. Employee handbooks help illustrate the relationship and responsibilities of the employee and employer, and provide clear communication on a variety of employment topics. Additionally, a well-written handbook establishes guidelines for a workplace and protects the employer from potential liabilities. Alltrust Insurance has put together some tips to help guide you through the process of reviewing your employee handbook and ensure that each policy pertains specifically to your company and employees.
A Guide To Employee Handbooks
What Is The Purpose?
The purpose of an employee handbook is to specify expectations, rules and compensation of employees in your business. A comprehensive, in-depth handbook should include information regarding compensation, benefits, dress code, human resources issues, time off, workers’ compensation, performance reviews, discipline and rewards, drug and alcohol policies, anti-discrimination policies, social media usage, safety guidelines, and various other behavioral and procedural expectations. Covering this array of topics will help ensure that you and your business are protected against any potential liability.
7 Essential Tips For Drafting A Handbook
When drafting your employee handbook, it is important to be aware of and adhere to all federal, state and local laws. Also, make sure the employee handbook clearly defines the legal obligations and rights of both the employer and employee to prevent future complications. To further assist you with drafting an effective employee handbook, here are 7 helpful practices:
- Incorporate your brand tone throughout: Branding shouldn’t just apply to external material. It’s important to set a tone of voice for your business throughout everything, including employee handbooks. No matter what the message is, creating consistency within your business’s branding will leave positive impressions on employees. Consider the language and content of your employee handbook so it aligns with your brand’s vision. Most importantly, keep the language and content professional and straightforward.
- Use storytelling tactics: Implementing storytelling tactics within your employee handbook can help boost employee loyalty. No matter how big or small, every business has to start somewhere and these stories will help engage new employees to the heart and soul of your organization. Consider answering the following questions: How did your business idea start? How did you manage to grow it to this size? What obstacles have you overcome as a business? These will ensure your story is told in a relatable way and that employees understand your purpose.
- Make onboarding as easy as possible: Starting a new job can be stressful for any individual, especially when expectations aren’t clearly defined. Lay out your onboarding process in the employee handbook, complete with a timeline. This will give managers and employees a reference point and boost new employees’ confidence in starting a new job. It should also eliminate concerns of new employees that might not know what is expected of them.
- Get sign-off from your employees: For any employee handbook to be effective, you need cooperation from your employees. With this in mind, you want to ensure that every new employee signs off on the handbook, committing to the policies they just read. Remember to keep a copy in every employee’s personal files and don’t forget to have employees re-sign when the handbook gets reviewed or changed.
- Utilize your marketing team: Your marketing team is invaluable when it comes to creating engaging content. Be sure to utilize them when drafting your handbook so it is attention-grabbing and aligns with the rest of your company’s branding. A marketing team can also help guide you in the right direction to engage employees with the handbook. From language, humor, graphics or even videos, they’ll be able to grasp an employee’s attention and ensure the entire handbook process goes smoothly.
- Keep your policies flexible: It’s nearly impossible to prepare for every single scenario that could happen. Therefore, rather than having specific policies for every situation you can think of, use flexibility with overreaching policies that could apply to numerous scenarios. It’s also recommended to explicitly state that the handbook doesn’t cover all possible workplace scenarios so employees are on the same page. This will not only make the handbook much easier to read and understand but it will also prevent the handbook from being too long.
- Regularly review and update the handbook accordingly: Whether you choose to review your handbook as needed or set up specific dates to perform this task, ensure that it is done regularly. View your employee handbook as a living document. It may need to be updated weekly or monthly to stay in accordance with changes in workplace policies. This is especially important in the midst of a pandemic as rules and regulations are constantly changing.
The employee handbook is vital from a legal standpoint. In many employment lawsuits, the handbook will be a key piece of evidence that can either protect your company or provide ammunition for an employee (or former employee) who is suing you. By clearly establishing employee expectations and prohibited behavior, you can drastically reduce your liability.
Free HR Checkup With Alltrust Insurance
HR departments are often short on time and inundated with numerous important tasks. With increasing pressure and a time crunch for all the responsibilities in HR, finding time to write an employee handbook and keep it updated can be difficult. That’s why Alltrust Insurance is offering your organization assistance with a free HR checkup as well as a complete assessment of your current benefit offerings. Our HR experts can help you navigate the process of drafting an employee handbook to help take the burden off your shoulders. Once your free assessment is completed, we’ll provide you with an executive summary with recommended remedies. Contact Alltrust Insurance today to book your free HR checkup and learn more about what our checkup covers.