Before we can move on to how to create a ‘great’ employee handbook let’s begin with why companies should have one.
The employee handbook is important for a number of reasons: –
- an employee’s relationship with the Company is governed by the employee handbook
- it is a key tool in promoting fairness and transparency
- it develops visual rules and procedures
- it clearly sets out standards of behaviour expected
To create a great Employee Handbook, it must be:
- reflective of business values
- legally compliant
- ‘fit for purpose’ in the effective delivery of business objectives
What does this mean?
When creating your employee handbook start with information about the company. Tell your employees what is important to you, when did the business start, are there any stories about the business that you want to share, how did it grow?
From here share the company mission and values, help your employees to feel part of the business and gain an understanding of the culture. What is important to you as a business?
Talk in a language that the company uses – let it reflect who you are.
Create a handbook that is legally compliant and up to date. The ACAS code of practice states that companies should have a written disciplinary and grievance policy, the HSE states that with more than five employees you should have a written health and safety policy.
Lay these policies out clearly in your employee handbook keeping all of the policies and procedures in one place.
Make sure that you regularly review your policies and update them … things can change – don’t be caught out! This should be a regularly reviewed, referred to document in your business. Make sure it doesn’t sit on a shelf as a tick box exercise.
By having a legally complaint employee handbook with clearly laid out policies and procedures you are protecting your employees and your business.
Your employees know that there are standards of behaviour that all employees and managers must abide by, and people know the consequence of these not being adhered to.
The business is protected through robust policies such as social media etc. that can protect the business and again have clear consequences laid out should they be breached.
Finally, having a legally compliant, robust employee handbook, that managers and employees adhere to, can support the business in defending employment claims.
You can better defend a claim if you have followed a laid-out policy and procedure.
Fit for purpose in the effective delivery of business objectives
What does this mean? Your employee handbook should be set up to help you to successfully deliver your business objectives.
There may be policies that are specific to your business that may not be specific to other organisations. This should be another tool in your armoury for driving business success.
You have an Employee Handbook what next?
- Make it Accessible
Make sure it is accessible to all. During an employee’s induction period make sure that they know where to access it, the purpose of it and what it contains.
There may be policies and procedures that you want to pay particular attention to such as absence procedures, holiday procedures, health and safety and equal opportunities.
Guide your employees to the policies and procedures that they may need as a first port of call.
Demonstrate that all team members are treated fairly, and that the employee handbook sets the standard of behaviour acceptable in your organisation.
Do your managers know how to practically apply these policies? To make sure that people are treated fairly, help your managers apply them consistently.
How an employee’s holiday request is managed in one department should be the same as in another and in line with the policy.
Help your managers to gain confidence in making and owning informed management judgements and decisions when applying the policies through training.
Having fair and transparent application of people processes will help achieve a positive relationship and way of working with your teams.
This will lead to engaged teams and successful business performance!
Finally, our advice would be to keep your employee handbook non-contractual and not part of your employee’s terms and conditions of employment;
this will allow you to make changes to policies without formal consultation (although communicating changes is advised!).
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With over 20 years HR generalist experience across all disciplines, Sarah has worked across a number of business sectors and understands the importance of robust and practical HR processes and trained, motivated and engaged people in delivering business success.
As Wurkplace’s Head of HR, she is passionate about both providing the best HR service to our Clients as well as recruiting, developing and retaining the best team.