What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a document that contains your company’s operating procedures, policies, and expectations. It’s generally given to staff members on their first day of work (as part of the onboarding process) to clearly set out what is expected of them, and what rights both the employee and employer have.
Why do I need an Employee Handbook?
It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, including small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to develop their own employee handbook.
When a company is in its infancy, the CEO/Owner can usually interact with the few staff they have with relative ease. That means that company policy and culture is fairly easy to communicate, and expectations are clear on a one-on-one basis.
However there will come a time (perhaps sooner than expected) when the CEO/Owner must formalize company policy and culture, and delegate the responsibility of this policy to self-governing managers or teams.
As with all things in expansion and delegation, this allows the CEO/Owner to focus on the core functions of running the business. However a well developed employee handbook has other benefits too:
Employees have a definitive resource if they are unsure of any policy.
Get new employees to feel welcomed and valued by showcasing the benefits you offer them.
Employees know their rights and responsibilities without equivocation.
Provides clear channels of communication for an employee seeking help.
It helps create a culture where everybody is bound by the same rules and responsibilities, and there is no perceived favouritism.
Creates a safe work environment.
An employee handbook can help protect the organisation if a dispute is put forward by an employee.
Reduces time wasted by management addressing questions about policy.
Can be a living document that evolves and grows with the organisation.
All told, 20% of new staff members will quit within their first 45 days of employment, so it’s crucial to have a document that is both welcoming and informative.
What is the difference between an employee handbook and a policy manual?
Employee handbooks and policy manuals are often confused for one another. In essence, an employee handbook is a simplified document used by employees, whereas a policy manual is an exhaustive policy document, for use by management and Human Resources (HR).