An employee handbook is a unique guide that every business can create. The handbook provides valuable information for employees and can be referred to throughout their time at a company. An employee handbook is not only an excellent way to teach an employee about the values of the company, but it also plays a vital role in informing employees about their employment rights.
Nathan Christensen describes an employee handbook as “A roadmap for how to operate within your company.” This definition effectively describes the form your handbook should take. It should guide employees by offering information about the business, as well as discussing specifics about various laws and regulations. For new businesses, it also allows you to think about the type of company culture you want to create and how to express this to employees.
Below are some of the key elements you need to include in your employee handbook.
Welcome to the Company
For new employees, beginning a new role at an unfamiliar company means having to work with a different group of people, understand the company culture and learn to work in a different environment. For companies large and small, enabling a sense of belonging in the new employee is important. The first part of an employee handbook should consist of the mission of the company and the culture of the business. This allows employees to learn about what they can expect and the ethos of the business.
Policies, Procedures and Employment Law
Having a reference point for employees to check the company’s policies and procedures is essential. This part of the handbook should include the employer’s business compensation policies, employee benefits and workplace rules. Giving information to employees about their rights is important.
This is the section of the handbook that always needs to be kept up to date. When new laws pass (such as the recent GDPR regulations) or new policies are introduced, this section needs to be amended and re-distributed to employees.
Employee and Employer Expectations
Although the handbook is for employees, it should outline the expectations of employees and employers. This means that employees can know what to expect from management and learn the leadership style and structure in place.
Why Create an Employee Handbook?
- Create relationships — A well-written and comprehensive handbook can create positive and strong relationships from the outset between employees and employers. It can also spark discussions and create a deeper understanding of the company’s values.
- Improve communication — New employees have a lot to learn when they first start. Providing them with a handbook they can read over at any point can strengthen the communication process and ensure all of the critical information is received.
- Offer guidance in disputes — Should any disputes or issues arise within your business, the employee handbook can be used as a point of reference. The handbook should explain how issues are handled if a specific situation occurs, such as a dismissal. If any legal action is taken, the employee handbook can also be used to outline the expectations of employees and employers.
It’s advisable to have a lawyer assist you in creating your employee handbook to ensure all of the relevant employment law areas are covered. If laws and your policies change, receiving the advice of a lawyer is also recommended. An employee handbook can be a great tool if utilised correctly. The benefits to both the business and employee are great.