Top 7 Reasons to Have an Employee Handbook

Most businesses need some formal written policies – whether an actual “handbook” or a collection of pages on key topics.  An Employee Handbook is a type of preventive medicine, and can also serve as a good business planning tool.  There are lots of good reasons to have written policies, but here are the “top” seven, in no particular order:
  1. Written policies, consistently enforced, can help avoid legal disputes down the road.  A well drafted and enforced handbook can ward off accusations of favoritism; provide clear guidance on the company’s position against discrimination/retaliation/harassment and provide information on how to report any violations.
  2. A handbook or other written policies are also a good way to communicate information the business is legally obligated to provide anyway.
  3. A handbook will help you and your managerial staff save time.  Formal policies help cut down on answering the same questions over and over again.  For instance:  How much vacation do I get?  Can I enroll my dependents on the health plan?
  4. It is a way to document expectations and obligations of management and staff.
  5. Written policies create uniformity and help prevent disputes.
  6. Spending time thinking about the messages you want the employees to have regarding your business, and distributing those messages can improve leadership, and help keep the business on track with its mission.
  7. A handbook is a way to think through and communicate the company’s disaster readiness plan.  In light of the recent natural disasters, not to mention man-made disasters, this can be extremely important in protecting the company and its employees.

What is a good time to start?  The ideal time is before you hire your first employee.  Failing that, the sooner the better!  Keep in mind that an Employee Handbook is a living document.  You’ll probably want to make policy changes and benefit updates once a year or so.  After each update, you’ll distribute updated copies of the document to each employee and obtain a signed acknowledgement, so any employee claim of not being informed of company policies can easily be refuted.

Don’t know where to start?  We can help.  If you want to do it yourself, we provide a free template to our clients.  If you need hands-on help, we can refer you to an HR consultant to assist you, or even do it all for you.

Let us know how we can help.