Posts Tagged ‘Employee Handbook’

Don’t Overlook the True Value of Your Employee Handbook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Employee handbooks are a vital part of outlining and communicating your company policies while creating a “picture” of your company culture and mission.  All companies–regardless of their size, industry, or number of employees should have an employee handbook in place, be it hard copy, e-version, or on-line. A company handbook can be as robust and detailed or as simple and short as needed depending on your business and culture. Let’s review several of the major purposes and benefits of having a company handbook.

Legal Protection: A handbook should outline the company’s position on important legal or regulatory issues such as At-Will Employment, anti-harassment or discrimination policies, wage and hour compliance or drug testing policies. Should one of these situations become a workplace issue, an employer can support their actions based on what is outlined in their handbook. Handbooks are a great tool in helping set employee expectations.

Company Culture/Mission: A handbook provides employees with an understanding of the company’s mission and culture. By placing an emphasis on aspects of employment that the company values (volunteerism or code of conduct) the employees will have a better idea of the culture that is desired and supported by senior management. Understanding the company’s culture will allow employees to have clear and consistent expectations of conduct and performance.  The handbook is also a great place for the CEO to “tell the story” of the company to help employees understand why the company exists.

Guide for Employees: An employee handbook should be written with the employee in mind. The handbook should outline policies, practices and other key information that is pertinent to the employee.  Providing relevant and pertinent information to employees allows employees to understand and manage that what is important to them (such as benefits, pay cycle information, vacation schedules, etc.) as well as develop an understanding of the expectations and consequences of their actions.  An employee handbook can also serve as a source for creating positive employee relations such as internal dispute resolution rather than through an external source such as government agency.

Guide for Supervisors/Managers: Managers and supervisors need reference materials in order to help them lead their teams. Having an understanding of policies such as PTO (how to earn it, when to use it, what happens if it isn’t used at the end of the year) is just as important as reviewing the company’s discipline policy or time management policies. A handbook is a great starting place for supervisors and managers but they should refer to specific company policies and or consult with their HR team.

CAI members have access to handbook guides to help you get started. Our Advice & Resolution team also provides complimentary handbook reviews and our HR On Demand team can work with you to create a custom handbook for your organization.

Emily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad-based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

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