Employee Handbooks are not required by law, but it’s always in your company’s best interest to have one.  A handbook allows employers to inform employees about workplace rules and benefits in an efficient, uniform way.  Employees will know what is expected of them, and what they can expect from their employer.  When an employee situation imposes a challenge, it’s best when an employer/manager can refer to a policy for guidance in making consistent and compliant decisions (especially if decisions are ever legally challenged).

So where do you start?  Here are a few tips:

Assess Current Status – Do you currently have a handbook?  How often do you use it?  Do your employees understand it and find it helpful?  What applicable rules, practices, and policies should a revision include?

Compliance – What legal processes should be considered to update your old handbook, or in creation of new policies?  Are there current policies that are too vague or so detailed they are difficult to understand?  Were any federal or state employment/benefit changes implemented recently that warrant policy changes?

Engage – Would it be helpful to consult outside colleagues or internal managers?  What do they feel is important to include?  What challenges have your colleagues faced in their roles that could be better addressed with policies?  Also, once you have a handbook, be sure your managers are familiar with its provisions so they can adequately implement policies and address employee questions as they arise. 

Rollout and Receipt – Make sure all employees receive a copy of the new handbook.  Provide a review/training session to ensure they understand its contents.  Confirm acceptance of the new handbook with a signed “receipt of handbook” form for each employee.

Review and Update – Review your handbook annually (use your Outlook calendar or beginning of a quarter as a reminder).  Make necessary amendments to keep current with legal requirements or to support your organization’s changing culture.  Adapting necessary changes on an annual basis can help prevent it from becoming a larger task in the distant future.

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