Creating a company employee handbook can seem like a daunting task, but having one can bring many benefits and help protect your business. Here are eight reasons your business should have an employee handbook:
- It introduces employees to your business culture, mission and values
One of the most important aspect of your employee handbook is the introduction of new employees to your culture and how they will fit in.
This helps to foster a sense of pride and belonging, which studies show will help employees become more productive in a shorter period of time.
The introduction section of an employee handbook will answer these questions:
“What sets us apart?”
“How did the company get where it is?”
“What are we as a business passionate about?”
“How can you become a part of this culture?”
The introduction section sets the standard for the employment relationship in general, and provides guidance for the remaining policies in the handbook.
- Employees understand what is expected of them
A well-written handbook provides employees with a clear understanding of their responsibilities in and out of the business.
The handbook also serves as a compass for the businesses policies and procedures. For example, it advises employees what the procedures are for requesting time off. It advises employees who they should contact when they have an unscheduled absence and what the company policy is. It tells employees who to go to if they have questions about any of the specific policies in the handbook.
The handbook also communicates an employee’s general responsibilities regarding safety, timekeeping and reporting. By providing clear, accessible information, handbooks ensure companies continue moving in the right direction.
- Helps defend against harmful breach of employment law allegations
Unfortunately, most employers are aware that they may one day face an Employment Tribunal claim from a current or former employee. If this happens, one of the most useful documents you can provide your solicitor will be a copy of an up to date handbook including policies that you have implemented and followed.
A thorough and compliant employee handbook will help to show that the business exercised “reasonable care” towards its employees.
The employee’s signed acknowledgement page will show that the employee had an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the companies policies, a chance to ask related questions, knew whom they could turn to for help within the business, and agreed to follow the terms and conditions of employment set forth by the organization.
- It educates employees about what they can expect from the management team
An employee handbook provides objectives, as well as management best practices, to foster healthy management/employee relationships. It also outlines policies, such as timekeeping requirements, hours of work, probation periods and pay dates.
Furthermore it will outline training and progression routes, including what mandatory training is required, what additional training is on offer and how the employee will be measured on their performance, such as outlining the company’s appraisal policy.
As well as providing information for employees, it gives managers a framework within which to manage.
- It will ensure key company policies are clearly and consistently communicated
No policy is effective if isn’t practiced consistently. A company handbook will accurately communicate your businesses policies regarding employment, conduct and behaviour, compensation and other policies and procedures you follow.
Most importantly, managers can refer to the handbook when answering questions or making decisions regarding your policies and ensure their answers and actions are consistent with your policies and best practices.
- It will shout about the employee benefits you offer
Does your business offer generous holidays, health insurance, paid parental leave or other benefits to employees? Make sure they know about these policies and the eligibility requirements by communicating them in the handbook. A robust benefits package can help you retain your best and brightest employees, so be sure they know about your full suite of offerings by communicating these in the handbook.
- Ensures compliance with employment law
No matter how many employees you have you will be subject to employment laws. Your handbook not only communicates the key entitlements and obligations to employees, but is useful in demonstrating that your business strives to be compliant with these regulations.
- Let’s employees know where to turn for help
Ultimately, you want employees to feel comfortable turning to a trusted member of management for help when they want to report workplace problems, obtain workplace-related assistance and get answers to any other questions they may have. The alternative is for them to turn to an outside third party, like a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau, which could trigger a costly and time-consuming investigation.
When a company handbook outlines an employee can to turn to in those situations, they are more likely to keep their complaints in-house, and this is a good thing for employers.
When was the last time you reviewed your policies and updated your employee handbook? Or do you need help creating one but aren’t sure where to start? Searching for the answers you need online is time-consuming and inefficient. Buying a “one size fits all” package could leave you struggling to implement policies that are not suitable for your company. Plus, can you really ensure the information is up to date, accurate and above all legal? We can help.
Our Head of HR & Employment team, Clare Fowler, can help you create a thorough employee handbook which ensures your business is legally compliant but also ensures you give your new employees the most professional impression of your business as possible. Arrange a consultation with Clare by calling 0114 249666 or email at [email protected]
If you would like to keep up to date with the news from Howells Solicitors, receive exclusive offers and free legal advice, sign to to our mailing list here