The days of dense binders residing within HR filing cabinets stuffed with paper copies of all the office policies are gone… at least at most businesses. Yet that doesn’t mean we’ve moved away from laying out procedures and expectations in an employee handbook. You may wonder why you still need an employee handbook, but there are many advantages an effective employee handbook can offer your organization.
A typical employee handbook might include:
- Introduction to company culture, history, mission, vision & values
- Explanation of compensation
- Development opportunities
- Code of conduct
- Summary of benefits and perks
- Expectations for working hours
- Anti-harassment policies
- Policies for paid time off, sick time, vacation, and holidays
- Processes for employee resignation and termination
- Physical and cyber security standards
These are all essential topics. To cover them comprehensively, you need an employee handbook. Let’s dig digger into the reasons employee handbooks remain relevant for today’s workforce.
1. Provides a culture crash course
Putting the mission statement and values in the employee handbook is one more way to emphasize its importance overall. Don’t just write it in the handbook and expect the new employees to absorb the information. Make sure that you cover these details in onboarding.
Giving the employees ready access to these key aspects of your company is an essential part of culture building and bringing that new person into your community. Communicating what your business is passionate about from the outset can set the standard and provide guidance for your new hires as they get started.
2. Establishes expectations from the outset
New employees are more likely to become productive more quickly with the support of an effective handbook. Laying out the procedures someone needs to follow to take time off or when they can access benefits answers important initial questions. This can reduce their stress and let that individual focus instead on getting down to work.
3. Educates your current employees
Sure, you did a great job of educating your new hires in your excellent onboarding. Yet they are bombarded with a lot of information in the beginning. And they’re nervous, too. By providing an employee handbook, you give individuals access to the essentials about your company at their fingertips. When they have a question, they can self-serve by reviewing the handbook. This leads neatly into our next advantage.
4. Can free up your HR resources
When employees can get their questions answered using a readily accessible handbook, they don’t have to ask those same things of your HR personnel. Communicating the employee’s general responsibilities regarding safety, timekeeping and reporting in a clear and concise way can eliminate confusion.
Of course, your HR team wants to get to know employees and assist them with their problems. But they probably would rather be involved in the more complicated questions, spending their valuable time addressing bigger issues. You can also use the employee handbook to identify who reports to whom, and where an employee might direct their questions regarding certain topics, which can help focus everyone’s efforts to reach a quicker resolution.
5. Ensures consistency
The act of writing up the employee handbook requires your decision makers to come to a consensus. Setting your policies and procedures down in a handbook avoids the issues that could arise when there are disagreements and inconsistencies across teams or departments. In particular, it can help you ensure that every employee is getting equal treatment. Plus, each individual is aware of what they can expect. And, your employee handbook should outline what they can do if they feel that they are not being treated fairly.
6. Addresses compliance concerns
No matter your industry, you’re going to have to follow federal and state employee regulations. The handbook is a vehicle for communicating how your company recognizes employee rights such as military, disability, or family medical leave, as well as other government mandates.
Providing a cybersecurity policy in the employee handbook can also count towards education expectations in some cyber compliance situations.
7. Supports your defense in legal claims
Should your business ever face a legal challenge, the employee handbook is one of the first things your attorney will want to see. Having employees sign a document saying they have received and read the handbook can help, too. This demonstrates that individuals were given the opportunity to learn about organizational policies and ask questions, and that they agreed to follow your terms of employment. Also, it can help establish that someone was rightfully fired for a specific violation, rather than wrongfully terminated.
Create clarity with employee handbooks
Your employee handbook no longer needs to be a bound book. You can do the same thing with a shared electronic file that lives online. But we hope that these seven benefits of an employee handbook that we’ve outlined have motivated you to make one (or update your current one). Next in this series, we’ll talk about how to develop your employee handbook.
Want to find out what your employees think of the handbook or your onboarding process? We can help with that. Try Sogolytics’ HR experience management tools today.