When is the last time your employees read the employee handbook? If you are like most companies, they last saw it around the first few days of work. Even annual HR trainings barely scratch the surface of its contents. The employee handbook offers so much more than a list of paid holidays and an overview of state and federal laws. Handbooks outline company policies that affect your employees’ daily lives – the dress code, fraternization, jury duty, how to call in sick, the designated pay day, etc. Those policies are an invaluable tool for managers.
Here are the top four ways your business can better utilize your employee handbook:
Performance reviews are designed to be objective measures of performance. However, they can often feel subjective when the standards against which performance is measured are unclear. Using the handbook to guide expectations provides objectivity. For example, instead of stating that an employee is “frequently late,” point to the business hours section or attendance policy in the handbook.
The employee handbook offers dual benefits: convenience and consistency. Writing employees up, particularly for relatively minor infractions, is time consuming. However, by the time Jim in Finance has worked unauthorized overtime for a sixth time, you probably wish you had written him up previously. An easy alternative is to copy and paste the section from the handbook regarding unauthorized overtime and have Jim sign it the first – and hopefully – last time the violation occurs. Moreover, by citing a specific policy, your manager can ensure that the documentation is consistent. As we advised previously, this is critical for defending your business.
When managers are lax about certain rules, employees may simply forget or disregard the handbook’s policies. Discipline isn’t the only option for reminding an employee that she or he broke a rule. Policy reminders can be used on their own or in addition to a written warning. For example, if most employees are disregarding the dress code policy, have everyone sign a policy reminder to reinforce the rule.
Defending Business Practices.
From unemployment claims to allegations of discrimination, the employee handbook is key to a strong defense. To defend against an unemployment claim, employers should point to the policy violation that resulted in the employee’s termination. For a claim alleging discrimination or sexual harassment, an employer can defend itself with citing its policies against harassment and discrimination, the employee’s signature acknowledging having read the handbook, and whether the employee complied with the handbook’s complaint procedures.
It’s time to dust off your employee handbook and start implementing these best practices today.
Do you want to update your handbook or need guidance for drafting a policy reminder? Contact an HR Consultant today.