Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Employee handbooks are something everyone's probably read at some point in their career but, as a business owner, it can often be overlooked.
When first starting a business you may only have a few employees, but as time goes on and you grow, you should consider adding an employee handbook.
Our experienced business attorney, Ashly Guernaccini, is here to break down the benefits of having an employee handbook.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a document that contains everything employees need to know about your business. This includes policies, procedures, what's expected of employees, what's expected of management, disciplinary procedures, and the company's mission and values.
An employee handbook will help to get everyone on the same page. Think of it as the roadmap you provide your workers so that they can know where to turn at any stage of their employment.
What to Include in an Employee Handbook
There isn't anything set in stone about what you should or shouldn't include in an employee handbook. There are a few common things that most employee handbooks should have, including:
Company mission and goals - Many employee handbooks start by stating the mission and goals of the company. This makes sure all staff are on the same page about the direction of the business and inspires team morale!
Company Culture - Another key aspect is that it helps establish the culture of your company. This is a big one. Are you a suit-and-tie type of business or are blue jeans permitted? Are workers required to punch in and out or is the schedule flexible? There are a whole host of these scenarios that we’ll want to address.
Company policies - This includes everything from rules during business travel to policies on company equipment. For example, this is your chance to let employees know they shouldn't use their work computers for personal matters, how to inform your manager of PTO or sick days, and how/when paychecks are deposited.
Benefits - What are the benefits your company offers? Paid and unpaid time off, sick leave, health insurance, and 401k. These are perks you want to have clearly established and well-known.
Anti-discrimination and harassment policies - Outline what constitutes harassment and discrimination and how to report it.
What are the Benefits of Having an Employee Handbook?
Besides helping employees get a strong understanding of your company and its vision and policies, there are many benefits to having an employee handbook!
Employees know what's expected of them
Managers know what to expect from employees
Establishes your company's culture and ground rules
Helps your business stay in compliance with state and federal laws. The policies outlined in your handbook will protect your business from disgruntled employees or other types of legal actions
Having clear documentation about company rules and policies saves time, as managers won't have to explain them
It outlines a specific way for conducting yourself as an employee, so matters can be handled consistently each time they occur
Is an Employee Handbook Necessary for My Business?
There is no legal requirement for businesses to have an employee handbook. That said, we strongly recommend having one and consider it a necessary tool for running a business of any size!
Without an employee handbook, you lose a lot of legal ground for enforcing rules and company policies. Plus, employees won't know what to expect or which rules can be enforced. There's nothing telling them they can't show up late, take extra days off, or wear whatever they want to work.
A handbook reinforces important company policies, culture, and expectations for both managers and employees. Plus, it helps protect the company during any future legal battles.
What Makes a Good Employee Handbook?
I could go on and on about the benefits of having an employee handbook. When creating the handbook there is one thing you’ll want to have in place: that it’s understandable, and specific to your business.
Basically, this guidebook needs to be written in a way anyone can understand it, and so it’s relevant to your operations.
I can’t tell you how many employee handbooks I’ve read that don’t clearly define terms, use too many complexes, and are — for the most part — not understood by management let alone the employees.
What good is an employee handbook if only a few can even comprehend it?
Need Help Drafting an Employee Handbook?
While this article explained a few important things to include in an employee handbook, it's not always easy to figure out what you should and shouldn't include in one for your own business.