Why Do You Need An Employee Handbook?
When your Employee Handbook carefully spells out your employment policies misunderstandings will occur less frequently and if an employee does get confused about your expectations, then resolving that confusion will be straight-forward.
Carefully written employment policies supported by clear guidance notes for your management team will ensure decisions are made consistently across your business.
But if your Employee Handbook is gathering dust on a shelf or in a draw in your office then your business could be at risk!
- Tribunal Claims
Inconsistent use of the policies within your Employee Handbook will lead to grievances been raised for unfair treatment, which can and most likely will give rise to discrimination claims which you will struggle to defend!
- Demotivated Employees
You only need one rebellious employee to notice that a benefit description is out of date and before you know where you are everyone is wasting valuable working time huddled in corners gossiping. Imagine the time you’d spend calming that situation down!
- Conflicting Views
Without adequate training employees can pick up different interpretations about particular policies and there’s always the one employee who won’t settle for the right answer and will pursue the question with everyone until they hear the answer which suits them.
- Wasted Time
Your employee handbook is where your employees will look for information about the company, the benefits provided and the policies which you operate. It should be your employee’s first port of call for information and if the information they find is out of date or simply isn’t there their next stop will be your desk. So, an out-of-date employee handbook means you are wasting valuable time resolving problems.
So how do you avoid these situations?
- Keep the Content Relevant
I recommend a mini review at least once a year. This way the review never becomes an onerous task for you. You don’t have to do a complete reprint and reissue every time: if something has changed or you have chosen to amend or withdraw a policy or benefit, even as a temporary measure, send out a notice to every employee and remove or amend the relevant section in the master copy of your employee handbook. Include a ‘receipt of notice’ for the employee to sign and collect these in and store them with the original employee handbook receipt slips.
- Encourage Two-Way Communication
Communicating with your employees about your policies and expectations starts with the induction programme and should continue throughout their employment with you. Adding the Employee Handbook as a regular agenda item to your staff meetings will begin to encourage two-way communication about the employee handbook and its content i.e. your policies. You’ll notice that as employee’s feel involved in the process, they will begin to take ownership and then they are more likely to use the handbook. When there are significant changes hold a meeting with all staff to introduce the changes: how, why, what. This will ensure that each employee, no matter how long they have worked for you, stays current and up to date with your expectations of them.
- Train Your Management Team
Arrange for your line managers to have regular training in the use of the key policies and procedures within your Employee Handbook. So, they understand the steps to follow and the importance of each step within each and every policy. As their understanding grows, they will consult the employee handbook first before contacting you or your HR Advisor for the answers they were seeking.