When your business is small, making sure workers know all the policies, processes and rules is easy. But as your company grows, you need to put your operational procedures in writing. An employee manual effectively accomplishes this by informing your workers what is expected, and also ensures that your business complies with state and federal employment laws. You can include information about the company and its history to give your workers a sense of company pride. Here are some things you need to consider in developing an effective manual for your workers:
- Decide on the contents
- Find an expert to actually create the manual or if you have the resources, create it in-house
- Review it for accuracy and legality
Decide what the manual should coverAt the very least, you need to spell out your policies regarding hiring, firing, workplace decorum, company benefits, employee privacy and performance appraisal system. No manual can ever be totally comprehensive; individual worker needs will undoubtedly produce circumstances that aren't in your guide. You can, however, create a handbook that covers the situations that will affect most of your employees.
Outsource the publicationIf you're not an expert in labor law, human resources or employee relations, you might want to hire a specialist. Many companies provide a combination of payroll, benefits, regulatory compliance and employee training services.
Business.com's directory of HR outsourcing firms.
Do it yourself with computer softwareIf hiring an outside firm is beyond your budget, check into the various computer template programs that will guide you in creating an employee handbook.
Get a legal opinionWhichever option you choose to create your employee manual, make sure the final product is reviewed and approved by your company attorneys. You want to ensure that your handbook's language does not create a de facto employment contract that could make it difficult for you to fire workers. Courts have ruled in favor of terminated employees who have proved that they relied on their company handbook and its assurances.
- A manual is not set in stone. Policy adjustments can and should be made as your company's situation changes.
- Whenever you make any changes, be sure to again run them by your attorney.
- Save printing costs by putting your employee manual on your company's intranet or making it available at your Web site, with secure company/employee-only access protections.
- Periodically remind your workers to refer to the manual.
- Make sure you get a signed employee acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook. The worker does not have to attest to reading it, but that he/she received it.