Regardless of the size or scope of your business, crafting a detailed employee handbook is of vital importance to your company, whether you have 2 employees or 200. While there are no specific state or federal laws that mandate the use of an employee handbook, these manuals can go a long way in communicating with your employees and legally safeguarding you and your business. An employee handbook is the best way to communicate your expectations to your staff. Without one, most rules and expectations are delivered via word-of-mouth, which leaves a lot up to interpretation – and misunderstandings. With our 20 step guide to writing an employee handbook, you’ll be well on your way to creating a meaningful document for both you and your employees.
1. Address vacation, sick time, holiday pay, inclement weather, and maternity leave. Obviously, this is also an industry specific concern. Whatever your business, be sure to address the aspects of time off that apply to your team.
2. Discuss your expectations regarding your employees presence on social media. Your employees presence on social media may or may not matter in your industry. But, if it does, it is important to point out to your team how their online presence may impact the company. Your employee handbook can be a great place to communicate about this delicate subject.
3. Define what you want your employees to wear. If you require your staff to wear a uniform, define the pieces that are included, and how they should wear them. For example, you may have specific shirts your team members are expected to wear. In this section, it will be important to address whether or not the uniform is mandatory, what type of pants they should wear, and what kind of shoes you expect them to have.
4. Decide if having a professional draft of your handbook is better for you. Once you browse several online templates, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Don’t worry, there are professionals who are experts at crafting employee manuals. Consider working with an employee payroll service that likely includes an employee manual. What’s more? Do your research and you may find that if you are using an employee payroll service, they may offer this service at a discount, or perhaps even included in your fees. If you can work this expense into your budget, you may find hiring a professional can be well worth the investment.
5. Write a brief mission statement. What better way to begin your employee manual than with a few brief, descriptive sentences about what it is that your company stands for. This statement can set the tone for your employee handbook, making it a more positive and inviting document.
6. Consider using a template. One quick Google search will reveal countless employee handbook templates, many of which are completely free. Find one that fits your industry and business model, and analyze it. What works for your business and what doesn’t? Your manual will not end up looking or sounding like anyone else’s, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Learn from others.
7. Speak with your management staff and team regarding your systems. Before sitting down to write, it is critical that you have a firm handle on exactly what your systems and processes are. While you may feel they are crystal clear, it is imperative to speak with the ones in the trenches day-to-day as it is likely the systems you once put in place have evolved. Be sure your they are clear, definable, and measurable. If not, get these things narrowed down before you write.
8. Define your expectations for attendance and punctuality. While this may seem like a given, it is critical to spell out your rules regarding attendance and punctuality. How many surprise absences will you tolerate, if any? How many times can an employee be late before there are repercussions? Think about what is important to you regarding your employees time commitments, and make sure they are clearly articulated.
9. Define your rules regarding use of personal phones. These days, everyone has a smartphone nearby. If you don’t address the use of phones in your workplace right away, it’s likely your employees will be spending a lot of time on them on the clock. While emergency use is sometimes necessary, you may want to spell out exactly how you want your staff to handle their phones while at work.
10. Address workplace safety procedures. While you may have discussed this with your team, putting it in writing will protect your business and team. You may think this manual will be a dust collector, but it can be a handy reference when employees have questions.
11. Write clear job descriptions. Don’t assume that everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for. Make up for potential gaps in training with clear job descriptions.
12. Define when and if employees can receive benefits/retirement savings. If you offer benefits and retirement savings incentives, be sure to include information about when this is available to your team.
13. Define disciplinary actions and probationary periods.
14. Create a code of conduct for your business.
15. Write up a detailed plan for termination, dismissal, and separation.
16. Review with management team and look for discrepancies/redundancies. Don’t be afraid of feedback, get everyone involved in making this document a success.
17. Consult with an attorney to review your manual. This is an incredible important step as it is important to make sure your manual covers you and your business legally. Work with a lawyer who is familiar with employee handbooks and your specific business scope and industry.
18. Arrange a staff meeting to introduce and adjust employee manual. Set up a time and place to get your entire team together to explore your newly drafted employee handbook. Go through it together, and again incorporate feedback in needed.
19. Remember this is a working document, and will be added to and edited over time. This isn’t the kind of document that you create and file away forever. This handbook includes information that will need to be regularly updated and added to as job descriptions, safety requirements, and conduct issues change.
20. Print and give copies to your staff as well as place in prominent spaces in your workplace. Include a signature page that confirms their receipt of the manual.
Creating an employee manual is a worthy endeavor. What do you find to be important issues to include?
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