The one thing your business MUST have – but many go without…
You guessed it…Ah, the humble employee handbook — How little it’s appreciated. I’m often surprised when I begin working with a company and I ask to see their employee handbook and I get the “Yea, it’s on our to-do list – we are a small company though so it doesn’t really matter…..does it?”
Forget the obvious – you don’t have PTO days or holidays structured and in writing, there’s no written policy in case of harassment issues, or what the lay of the land is if an employee should leave or break a rule (that may or may not be written in stone).
Many companies that have an employee handbook, updated by HR every three years, given out in the introduction pack for new starters, and seldom referred to again, it leads a small and solitary life — It doesn’t have to be this way.
Used well, the employee handbook can become a vital resource for the way your business does things. Imagine having a living, breathing document that:
• Lays out reasonable, agreed upon policies in an easy to understand way.
• Shares the best ways to work to keep everyone productive.
• Has hints and tips on best practice.
• Keeps everything clear and consistent across your business.
That sounds pretty great, right?
And….you don’t have one. It’s o.k. we aren’t here to judge (not really) – we’re here to help you get started!
So, how do you go about creating this wondrous thing? Glad you asked…
Involve everyone in creating and rewriting the employee handbook. The best way to get people to care about your employee handbook is to involve them in writing it. Ask your employees about what they want it to cover, get feedback on your policies, put together a focus group. Let your teams know it’s a way to get invested in how they work day to day — They can have a direct impact on doing things better.
Talk through and get feedback on your business policies and procedures. Your policies and procedures impact everyone in your business. Encourage your employees to discuss and suggest improvements. That will encourage them to read through and understand your procedures and policies and help them feel accountable for any changes.
Make your employee handbook easily accessible to everyone. Save the trees! If you print out your handbook, it will just end up in the back of a desk drawer, gathering dust. Put your handbook online, on your intranet or a private website. Make sure it’s properly hyperlinked, has access to other resources and is easily searchable. Include a direct link to it on the front page of your intranet. Make sure that all of the language in the handbook is easy to understand and avoid jargon.
Ensure it’s about more than just policies and procedures. The best way to get people to use the staff handbook is to make it useful. Rather than just being about how you do things, how about having links to online training, best practices, explainer videos, or discussion groups? Make the handbook itself interactive — Get people to share their experiences and successes.
Regularly reference your handbook in communications. When you send out emails and other communications to your teams, reference the staff handbook. Highlight it as the central resource for your employees to source their information. Make people rely on it, and it will become their go to.
Your employee handbook is one of the best ways to influence your employees and encourage them to work better. When you use plain language, involve them in writing it, discuss policies and procedures, and make it truly useful, it’s better for everyone.
Oh, and yes we still believe employees should sign something that says “Hey, I read the handbook”. It might come in handy one day.