Posts Tagged ‘Employee Handbook’

Why Your Company Needs an Up-To-Date Employee Handbook

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Although there is no federal law that requires organizations to produce employee handbooks, providing them for your staff helps create positive employer-employee relationships and protects your organization from potential wrongful harassment, termination or discrimination lawsuits.

Here are two reasons why handbooks benefit employers and employees:

Promotes a Positive Workplace Atmosphere

Company handbooks provide employees with a set of clearly defined policies, rules and guidelines. Well-written handbooks also outline consequences for not following company policies, as well as where employees should turn to if they have a problem. Having this information on hand helps workers understand their employer’s expectations and what they should expect from their employer.

Because each employee receives the same handbook, they all review the same information. These documents set the precedent for fair and consistent employee treatment. To ensure effectiveness and understanding and to avoid low employee morale and job dissatisfaction, keep your handbook clear, concise, easy to follow, and up to date.

Is a Legal Document

Although you don’t want to fill your employee handbook with confusing legalese, it can serve as your biggest protection for or evidence against your company in a lawsuit. Many courts see employee handbooks as contracts between an employer and its employees. For this reason, avoid using promises, guarantees and entitlements in your handbook because if left unfulfilled, those promises could be used against you in a lawsuit.

Making sure you follow the policies and procedures outlined in your employee handbook is critical.  Routinely adhering to your handbook will be one of your best defenses. However, the opposite is also true. If you have several rules that you don’t follow, your current or former employees can use them against you. Regulations that you seldom enforce or frequently change should be omitted from your handbook to safeguard your organization.

It’s impossible to cover every workplace situation in your handbook because additional issues will always occur after you finalize it, so keep your policies appropriately flexible. Additionally, putting a statement in your handbook explaining that the document is not a complete collection of company policies and that your company reserves the right to change any policy is suggested.

If you have questions or would like your company handbook reviewed, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: West Point Public Affairs

Seven HR No-Nos to Avoid

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

If you have an HR department or are in the process of starting one, there are certain steps that must be in place for it – and by extension your organization – to succeed. Here are seven actions that if not taken can have serious negative consequences for your HR efforts and thus prompt problems in your office.

1.     Keep confidential information confidential. Once an employee or manager learns that something private they have told the HR department has been leaked, the department’s effectiveness has been compromised. The department will be viewed as untrustworthy thereafter by the staff unless major adjustments occur.

2.     Document everything. Everything from the initial interview with a candidate to the termination of an employee should be listed and kept on file, especially in order to prove allegations of employee performance problems, violation and complaints in court if needed.

3.     Create an employee handbook and update it as frequently as needed. With everyone having the same rules and knowing what they are, employees believe they are being treated fairly from the start. However, these rules need to be adjusted as major changes occur in the workplace (e.g., the usage of social media) in order for the handbook to be effective.

4.     Use technology wisely. Employees should feel they are able to talk to HR professionals in person about concerns, rather than have to communicate via e-mails. Technology should not be used as a barrier between HR and employees.

5.     Remember that you are dealing with people and take that into consideration when handling conflicts. If you follow the book and take disciplinary action against anyone for any infraction, you have a workplace that will be bogged down with inactivity. When HR professionals first notice something inappropriately done or said by employees, they should discuss with them why their activities were wrong and why they should not repeat it first. That often can solve the situation without resulting in wasted time and effort.

6.     Keep up to date on the federal and state HR laws. Some employees are sticklers about knowing the latest exemptions available and will want to use them (or in some cases exploit them) to their advantage. A good HR professional will already recognize what is being discussed and be able to address such concerns.

7.     Know the organization’s industry and its basics about protocols and current issues of concern. Any HR professional who is uninformed of the latest trends and rulings in the firm’s industry will leave employees feeling that person is similarly uncaring toward their needs. This can leave them discouraged with the company’s HR setup to the point of seeking employment elsewhere.

For more details on basic HR errors and how to prevent them, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Kumar Appaiah