If you’re a small business who has recently expanded, you might be considering the merits of developing and distributing an employee handbook to your workforce. Employee handbooks can perform strongly when it comes to communicating work rules, but in addition to helping to deliver a positive employee environment they can come with a number of drawbacks.
Deciding whether it’s time for your business to have an employee handbook might depend on how many employees you now have. If you have just a handful, you may find that assembling a handbook will be more effort intensive than necessary. In these situations creating a document that can be used to communicate work policies can perform just as well.
However, employee handbooks don’t have to be just about delivering work rules, it’s also possible to use them as a channel for other information such as the history of a business, its values and goals. It can play the role of being a motivator, a reference and can even be a shield against employment claims against the business for being discriminatory or unfair.
If you do have 10 or more employees, the employee handbook is likely to be of great benefit. You might want to add material such as:
- What you expect from your employees and what they can expect of you
- Details on the customer service policy of your business
- Where your business stands in both the community and the industry
- Why anybody would find your business a good place to work
- Suggestion and complaint procedures
- Information on lunch periods and break times
- Telephone usage
- Benefits including holidays
- Safety rules and procedures
Although your employees may find that a handbook provides them with access to resources, the wording that is used in them needs to be carefully considered in order to avoid future difficulties. For example, the words in your handbook may be interpreted in a way that makes it difficult to terminate employees. It can become an unintentional employee contract. Prior to distributing your handbook to employees, ask a lawyer to review it.