Creating the handbook can be a very intimidating process, but is a foundational piece, a mainstay, important feature and branding piece. So why is it considered so essential? Here are definitive reasons why a professionally-crafted handbook is well worth the investment:
1. Organize Company Policies.
Informally maintained policies governing employment practices can lead to inconsistent application and confusion about employer and employee rights and responsibilities. When well-written and written compliantly, a handbook is the first line of defense against potential litigation while reduceing unnecessary exposure.
2. Essential for Onboarding Process.
An effective employee handbook can help the onboarding process by promoting consistency with not only policy roll out, but to demonstrate to a new hire the company’s commitment to THEM. It also sets the tone and expectations of the employee while assuring them that the company cares about their rights.
3. Adherence to State Policies.
There is no law that requires a written employee handbook, but there are laws that require employers to provide certain information to employees in writing. An employee handbook holds the company’s stance on compliance with federal, state and local regulation.
4. Reinforce At-Will Status.
It’s a best practice to prominently display an at-will statement in the beginning of your employee handbook. Absent an at-will-employment relationship, the employer may have to establish “just cause” to terminate an employee. Reinforce at-will status in your handbook acknowledgment form as well.
5. Employee Guidance
It should be written so that the employee feels they have a conduit to management, can easily and comfortably ask questions, and there is an open door. Be sure to include contact information for the individuals that employees should direct questions to about policies. For grievance about violations of policies, employees should have more than one person they can contact.
6. Reinforces the Brand
The employee handbook reinforces the brand – should be welcoming and contain the company’s own messaging. It is also a sincere way to showcase the company’s vision, mission, and culture / way of doing things.
All of the above reasons are contingent on the handbook being written by someone who is well-versed on the laws, understands it’s purpose, how it should be utilized, and is aware of the audience. This is key, as every audience is different. The professional writing the handbook should be someone who truly understands the company and can ‘speak’ to its audience so as to be clearly understood.