An employee handbook is a vital, yet often overlooked, part of organizational success. It helps to:
- clarify expectations for new hires and existing employees alike;
- spell out HR policies in writing;
- protect your company against discrimination and unfair employment practice claims;
- onboard and orient new hires.
Does your handbook do all of this? If not, it may be time to review it with a critical eye. Here are a few tips from A.R. Mazzotta to help you craft a stronger employee handbook:
Include a welcome message. Add a brief introduction from the CEO or president that reviews your company’s mission and/or vision, as well as the culture you strive to maintain. This message is especially important for new hires, as it provides important context for how your company operates.
Skip the jargon. New hires and veteran employees alike should be able to understand your handbook. Make sure it’s not overloaded with legal terms and business slang. When it’s essential to use industry jargon, provide plain-English definitions to avoid confusion.
Include a formal, internal complaint mechanism. Within your handbook, outline an internal mechanism employees should use to complain about discrimination (as an alternative to automatically filing a lawsuit). This may give you an added measure of protection, should an employee skip this step.
Develop and enforce a code of ethics policy. Employees need to know what to do, as well as what NOT to do. Create a policy which tells employees that they shouldn’t do certain things, such as accepting kickbacks or engaging in other unethical behavior. Include the policy in your employee handbook.
Include an anti-retaliation provision. In recent years, there’s been a marked rise in claims of employer retaliation (i.e., that the employer took action against the employee because he brought suit against them). Protect your company against this type of claim, by including a statement saying that it’s your company’s policy not to retaliate against employees over accusations of discrimination or harassment.
Commit to regular updates. Over time, your company’s policies and procedures are likely to change. Your handbook should reflect those changes. Think of it as a “living document,” and update it annually. Cross-reference information in your existing handbook, re-writing and adding policies where necessary. Ask your legal counsel to review the document, before re-issuing to employees.
Obtain signed, written acknowledgements. Whether you’re re-vamping your current handbook, or starting from scratch, every person in your organization should provide written acknowledgement that they have received and understand the information. File all signed acknowledgements in a secure area, limiting access to only those who absolutely need it.
Minimize employment risks by using a staffing service.
When you work with a CT staffing agency like A.R. Mazzotta, we assume many of the risks associated with hiring and employing workers – such as making sure that non-discriminatory hiring procedures are followed and serving as the employer of record for our temporary employees. Simply put, we make it safer and easier to get your work done! To learn how we can help you minimize your employment-related risks, contact A.R. Mazzotta today.