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Why Do Handbooks Matter?

I’ve been working with some companies on handbooks lately and I realized there are a lot of companies who don’t put enough emphasis on them. Whether your company has 2 employees or 2,000, why do you need a handbook?

Various state and federal laws and how they affect your employees need to be communicated (some require communication). Handbooks provide the company with a great tool for that and can help defend against claims that employees weren’t aware of information. This comes into play regardless of how many (or how few) employees you have. When the company receives a claim of discrimination or other employee concern, often one of the first (if not the first) document requested is the employee handbook. Handbooks can provide documentation that help the company defend against legal issues.

Handbooks are a good way to give your employees a welcome document to explain the company, its mission, goals, policies and procedures, benefits, as well as expectations of safety, trainings and professional behavior. With remote work questions, Covid (vaccine and illness) concerns, and evolving leave policies, it’s a good place to provide updated information!

Handbooks can be a great reference for employees looking for information about the company. They can provide a good overall snapshot, so employees aren’t having to search in different areas for what they need. A handbook can make it known what the employees should expect out of their work experience and what is expected from them, and it can serve to clarify misconceptions.

Your handbook should summarize expected behaviors, where employees can go with questions, how to handle any complaints/concerns, work hours, dress code, facility information, safety/privacy information, termination (voluntary or involuntary) processes, benefit information (including time off/leave processes and basic insurance information if applicable) and a receipt of acknowledgement signed by the employee. If the company is multi-state or has employees who are multi-state, you should ensure you’ve covering any requirements of any or all jurisdictions applicable.

Handbooks can help emphasize the company culture, be utilized as a positive tool for motivation and engagement, provide consistency in behavior and expectations, reduce conflict and exposure to risk, and promote an atmosphere of respect and growth.

Do you have currently a handbook or have you reviewed your handbook lately? Handbooks are good tools for successful operations!

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