5 Considerations when Creating and Updating Your Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is a great reference tool for both employees and managers.  But did you know that you are not legally required to have a handbook?  Nope. Not required at all.

Yet, is an employee handbook recommended?  Absolutely!

The handbook is a key reference for your employees and your managers.  This provides consistent policies to follow and takes the guesswork out of what needs to be done.  Because consistency is a beautiful thing! 

Items to Consider when Creating and Updating your Employee Handbook

Consideration #1

Your handbook:  Ensure that it is in your company voice and aligned with the greater WHY and culture of your organization. Why? Because what is most important in the work that you do and the way in which your employees contribute are integral to that work.  Specifics to include: 

  • Company History – Let your staff know WHY you do what you do.  Elicit the key emotions that will motivate THEM to give their best every day that is steeped in a rich, productive and impactful history.  
  • Mission, Vision, and Values –These encompass the WHY you are doing what you are doing and the key things you look to do each and every day. 
CONSIDERATION #2

Rules of the game:  The handbook lays out the minimum rules.  These are the local, state and federal laws written in a way that aligns with your company culture and why. And these give clear direction to your employees.  Some items to include:

  • Wage and Hour Laws 
  • Family and Medical Leave (50+ Federal)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Policies
  • American with Disabilities Act
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Local laws (such as sick leave)
  • At-Will employment
CONSIDERATION #3

Organizational Policies:  Think of perks and benefits.  Outline paid time off, employee behavior, promotion, etc.  These are any policies that are not required by law. Yet, these are a part of your organizational culture. Some additional examples include: 

  • Extended Care Leave Policy 
  • Casual Friday
  • Remote Work Policy
  • Reinstatement Policy
CONSIDERATION #4

Get a signature: Having a handbook does not mean much without an employee signature.  Yes, you need an employee acknowledgment with a date that acknowledges that the employee has received the handbook and that they will follow what the handbook has outlined.  This then needs to go into the employee file or an electronic version of the employee file.  Anytime a handbook policy is changed, the employee should acknowledge that change with a new signature.

CONSIDERATION #5

Consistency:  Your handbook is a key foundational piece for your organization and is one part of a greater whole.  Review your handbook at least annually to ensure that you are not making any promises in your handbook that are not being followed. AND, ensure that the handbook does not become too stringent. A handbook that is too stringent does not allow management to support the current staff and policies. Lastly, determine which specific areas your management team and staff need additional training on. Such areas may include:     

  • Culture and Behaviors 
    • Confidentiality
    • Harassment and Discrimination
    • Dress Code
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
    • Minor Work Hours
    • Interns
    • Working off the clock (example: responding to text messages)
    • Hours
  • American with Disabilities Act
    • Reasonable Accommodation
    • Interactive Process

Want more, we have a full checklist of policies included in our HR Foundations program course AND a complimentary training in our Foundation Library.