Employee handbooks are important tools for employees and employers. Handbooks set expectations for employees and explain policies clearly in order for them to understand the organization better. Employers can rest easy when they have a handbook because they know employees have an understanding of policies and expectations. Today we’ll be talking about specific reasons for employers to have an employee handbook:
1. State the Organization’s Culture, Mission, and Value
One of the objectives of having a handbook is to introduce new employees to your company’s culture. When new employees read the handbook and get a sense of your culture then they’ll understand how to fit in which will help them feel a sense of belonging. When your employee has pride and belonging where they work studies say they tend to be more productive in a shorter amount of time. A few things that the introduction section of the handbook will cover are what sets your organization apart, how your company got started, what your company is passionate about, and how the new hire can become a part of the corporate culture.
2. Communicates to Employees What is Expected of Them
If your handbook is written well then it should clearly explain an employee’s responsibilities. It should outline the organization’s policies and procedures such as the procedures for requesting time off or a vacation. Other things that should be explained are who to call for unscheduled absences or who to talk to regarding policies in the handbook. Besides outlining specific details about certain procedures the handbook should also communicate an employee’s general responsibilities regarding safety, timekeeping, reporting, and so on.
3. Educates Employees About What They Can Expect From Management and Leadership
Another positive of having a handbook is that it will clarify company objectives and leadership styles in order to foster healthy management-employee relationships. Timekeeping requirements, hours of work, pay periods, and other logistics are also detailed in the handbook. FMLA or Jury Service Leave are also discussed in the handbook in regards to what entitlements employees have to federal and state leaves. If topics like this aren’t discussed it can cause confusion and inconsistencies.
4. Helps Ensure Key Company Practices are Clearly and Consistently Communicated
Inconsistent policies are not effective, but handbooks make sure that policies are enforced consistently. Policies such as employment, conduct and behavior, compensation, and other procedures are accurately conveyed when they’re in a handbook. The handbook will serve as a reference for managers when they’re answering questions or making decisions regarding policies, and it will keep them consistent with implemented best practices.
5. Showcases the Benefits the Organization Offers
It’s important to ensure that your employees know if you offer vacations, 401k, health insurance, paid parental leave, or other employee benefits. Highlighting the full suite of your benefits in the handbook is a great way to retain your best and brightest employees.
6. Ensures Compliance with Federal and State Laws
Your handbook is a great place to communicate state and federal employment laws, and it also shows that your company is striving to be compliant. For example, if an employee has to leave for active-duty military service, it’s important that they understand their rights and obligations in informing you of their need to leave. Parameters for your Military Leave Policy should be clearly defined in your handbook. Similar policies such as state disability leaves, federal FMLA leave, and other government mandates should communicate rights and obligations.
7. Helps Defend Against Employee Claims
In the case of a lawsuit, your handbook will be one of the most useful documents you can give your attorney. If your employee handbook is thorough and compliant it shows that the company had written and distributed policies. The signed acknowledgment page is vital because it demonstrates that the employee should be familiar with the policies, had the chance to ask questions, knew who to direct questions to and that they signed the acknowledgment and agreed to follow the company’s terms and conditions.
8. Lets Employees Know Where to Turn for Help
When employees need workplace-related assistance or are needing to report workplace violations you want them to feel comfortable talking to a trusted management member about it. If they don’t know who to turn to they could end up talking to the EEOC or DOL which could cause a costly and time-consuming investigation. You want your employees to keep their complaints in-house, so make sure your handbook names one or two management individuals for your employees to turn to.