Employee handbooks are standard operating procedure for most companies.
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You're not generally required to create an employee handbook, but there are a lot of reasons why it's a good idea. An employee handbook compiles all of your policies and procedures in one, central place. Your employee handbook also forces you to think through critical HR topics. The topics to include in your employee manual are largely subjective, but there are several categories that can't be overlooked.
- Mission and purpose. Most employee handbooks begin with a section that addresses the company's mission and the purpose for the handbook. This is more than upfront material – if employees are expected to agree with your mission and sign off on your policies, it needs to be stated at the beginning of the handbook.
- Company rules & procedures. The meat of the handbook should describe how employees are expected to function in the workplace. The rules and procedures section contains clear descriptions about the workday, breaks, over time, attendance and any other expectations you have regarding your employees' work activities. Many handbooks also include coverage of acceptable work attire.
- Payroll & personnel. As an employer, you're concerned about rules and procedures. Your employees, on the other hand, are most concerned about pay-related issues. Your employee handbook needs to address payroll handling, pay increases, promotions, termination procedures and other compensation or personnel topics. Keep in mind that the policies you describe here must adhere to non-discrimination standards.
- Benefits. Fringe benefits are another concern for employees. Holidays, vacations, insurances and retirement plans are common features for this part of the handbook. Employees should be provided with information about qualification and enrollment, as well as the procedure for dealing with benefits when they leave the company.
- Safety. Everyone in your company cares about safety procedures. A well-crafted employee handbook gets everyone on the same page regarding safety rules, emergency procedures and accident reporting. If your company requires workers to complete a safety incident report, you may want to include a copy of it in the appendix.
- Grievance process. Sooner or later, someone in your business will file a formal grievance or complaint. If you have addressed the process in your employee handbook, employees will know how to initiate a grievance and you'll be able to avoid the unenviable task of creating policy on the fly.