As an employer and owner of a growing small business, good communication between yourself and your employees is of utmost importance. As you are growing, and hiring employees to accommodate your growth, you’ll want to take steps to ensure that everyone is on the same page concerning company policies. Providing your employees with an employee handbook is an excellent way to accomplish this goal.
The purpose of an employment handbook is to provide clear details on the way things work at your company. This should include the expectations you have of your employees, and what they can expect from you as well. There are no hard-and-fast rules for employee handbooks, but here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
Things to Include in Your Employee Handbook
First, you should decide what you want to include in your employee handbook. The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests most employers include the following topics:
- Employers are required to follow laws put in place by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These laws are designed to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Outlining these laws in an employee handbook is very important because it communicates how employees are expected to behave in compliance with these laws.
- Use your employee handbook to outline company policies concerning compensation. Provide a detailed explanation of required tax deductions as outlined by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as optional deductions related to employee benefits. Additionally, inform your employees of company policies regarding overtime pay, scheduling, performance appraisals and raises, bonus and incentive programs, and employee breaks. Likewise, it is important to clearly communicate any rules in your company concerning computer and Internet use as well as policies focused on maintaining security of private or classified information.
- As an employer, it is your job to communicate to your employees your expectations for their behavior to maintain a peaceful and well run workplace. In your handbook, list rules concerning dress code, conduct, ethics, and any legal regulations about their field of work.
- Include company policies regarding leave. This section should include information about vacation and holiday time, sick leave, family medical leave, bereavement leave, and personal leave.
- All businesses are required to follow laws provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These laws require workplaces to report all injuries and illnesses resulting in the workplace as well as following certain safety guidelines to achieve a safe work environment. By providing your employees with this information in their employee handbook, you should see more employee compliance and a safer workplace as a result.
- Many employers choose to offer their employees certain optional benefits in addition to the employee benefits that are required by law. Clearly explain to your employees what is available to them and the process they should follow to take advantage of these benefits.
- Any additional information about employment at your business. Include things like job descriptions, termination and resignation procedures, employee eligibility, employee referrals, transfer and promotion policies, non-disclosure agreements, conflict of interest statements, and expectations for handling media inquiries.
Style Tips for Your Employee Handbook
Next, employers should format their handbook in a clear and concise manner. As you compile your employee handbook, keep in mind that your goal is for your employees to read and understand all the information provided to them. Create a table of contents in the front of the handbook as a resource for quickly finding the various topics covered.
Additionally, organize the handbook with subheadings and bullet points, increasing the readability of the content. You may choose to use bolded or underlined text to place emphasis on important information.
Using correct grammar and spelling throughout the handbook will establish it as a professional and important document. If you feel you need assistance with writing the handbook, you may choose to take advantage of online grammar guides, or hire someone to proofread and edit the content.
Many employers find it beneficial to present their employee handbook in orientation or a staff meeting. This provides employers with the opportunity to point out the most important information and answer any questions their new employees may have.
A well-compiled employee handbook is not only essential to managing the workplace; it is one of the best ways to assist employees in starting on the right foot in their new position.