If you’re a small business or are just starting up, then you may have heard about a company handbook but don’t really know what it is or where to start. You are not alone, and many people find it a daunting task, but we’re here to help clarify why you should have a company handbook in the first place and provide some simple tips on how to get started. Put simply, having a company handbook will establish how your company complies with employment legislation, the standards you expect from your management team and employees and how any procedures may be dealt with.
Here are the 5 reasons why we believe you should have an up to date company handbook:
1. INTRODUCE EMPLOYEES TO YOUR COMPANY ETHOS, VALUES & EXPECTATIONS With every employee that joins your business you will want to make sure that they know clearly what your company goals, values and expectations are. Your company handbook is the place to do this and you can make sure from the beginning that everyone understands what sets your business apart, how you got to where you are and what you are passionate about. Alongside this you will want to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of the working relationship your business has and as part of that your organisation’s expectations. Everybody should know what is required of them and your company handbook will allow you to do this in a comprehensible and consistent manner.
TOP TIP: Spend some time thinking about what the expectations of your business are. It is one thing knowing yourself but communicating them clearly is extremely important. This can include any thing from procedures for requesting time off for holiday, the key people for people to turn to if they have questions or concerns, expectations regarding employee behaviour and even dress code.
2. ENSURE YOUR COMPANY POLICIES ARE CLEARLY COMMUNICATED A company handbook should always communicate policies regarding employment, conduct and behaviour, compensation and other policies and procedures you may follow. Having this in place will mean that managers can refer to it when answering questions or making decisions and ensure their answers and decisions are consistent and in line with your policies and best practice.
Most employee handbooks will include the following: • Dismissal and Disciplinary Procedure • Drug and Alcohol Policy • Staff Telephone, Email and Internet Policy (including the use of personal mobiles) • Equal Opportunities Policy • Flexible Working Procedure • Grievance Procedure • Health and Safety Policy • Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental Leave • Redundancy Procedure • Staff Sickness and Absence Policy • Data Protection Policy • Whistleblowing Policy
TOP TIP: HR Consultants such as Whitcombe HR can provide you with a number of policy templates.
3. TELL EVERYONE THE BENEFITS YOU OFFER Now more than ever, the benefits you offer your employees will really set you apart and make you stand out. Take this as your opportunity to let your employees know what you are doing to reward them for their hard work, loyalty and to look after their wellbeing. These don’t have to be grand gestures but company away days, health insurance, paid parental leave, free gym membership and other benefits are a sure way to make sure your employees know you care. Ensure they are aware of these benefits and the eligibility requirements by documenting them in the handbook.
TOP TIP: Take extra care to look after the mental health of your employees. Here at Whitcombe HR we have a number of exercises to combat stress and even have a Wellbeing Handbook available. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
4. GUIDANCE FOR MANAGERS This is a really important factor for ensuring your managers have consistent and reliable guidance on key management policies, such as staff performance, corrective action and interviewing and hiring guidelines. As your business grows, you will need to delegate more and more, and knowing that everything your managers need is in the company handbook can be a huge help and spare up a lot of time for you.
5. HELPS DEFEND AGAINST EMPLOYEE CLAIMS There may come a time when you need to refer to your company handbook to defend against a legal claim. A comprehensive and compliant handbook will demonstrate that you have exercised “reasonable care” towards employees and reaffirm that your company policies and procedures were in place at the time of the claim.
TOP TIP: It may be that you already have a company handbook but have never referred to it. In that case, we would recommend that you update it on a yearly basis to keep it up to date and in line with any new legislation and changes in the law.
If you still feel like you need more help and guidance with your company handbook then please get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com or by calling 07534359255. We can help create a company handbook for you from scratch or we can review and update your current handbook and policies for you.
You can also click on our services page to find out what other HR services we can provide for your business today.