small business employee handbook_importance of mission statement to employees

Small Business Employee Handbook: Why & How Guide

(Last Updated On: October 9, 2023)

As with big businesses, a small business employee also needs a company handbook. Launching a brand new company definitely keeps you busy. Not only do you need to construct groups that can assist you with marketing, product creation, communications, gross sales, and more, but, you also have to coach your employees and ensure their work and behavior are consistent with your company vision. Together, these activities can quickly chip away at your time.

That’s why it is best to have an employee handbook in place if you start your company. This document will reply to all of your employees’ questions on company operations, saving you countless times from day one. Read on to be taught why employee handbooks are necessary for any startup intent on constructing a profitable team and what your handbook ought to embrace.

What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is an extensive document that lists particulars of a company’s policies. While these policies comprise the majority of an employee handbook, the document typically contains different information:

  • A company mission assertion
  • A guide to the onboarding process for brand new employees
  • Contact information for necessary company members
  • A quick primer on employment legislation fundamentals to teach employees about their rights
  • Nondisclosure and non-compete agreements, if relevant

Key takeaway: An employee handbook outlines company policies and different information associated with the business’s objectives, onboarding procedures, contacts, and employee agreements.

Why do you need an employee handbook?

As a brand new business owner, you will seemingly need an employee handbook to maintain your team’s behavior, work habits, and efficiency consistent with your company mission assertion, your vision of a super office, and your objectives in your company culture.

When you give your employees an in-depth employee guide that describes the way you need your business to function, you scale back the time you will spend coaching your team on skills circuitously associated with your initiatives.

Since it creates a team-based method for all work procedures and issues, an employee handbook will help you obtain a productive, professional, welcoming office.

As employee manuals go, work procedures might embrace fundamentals resembling requesting medical depart in accordance with the company’s sick depart policy.

Work issues might embrace issues of employment legislation, resembling addressing office sexual harassment allegations; together with such provisions can scale back your company’s legal responsibility within the occasion of a lawsuit.

Despite the authorized protections and more streamlined workplaces that employee handbooks can present, no employer is required to have one. That mentioned, nearly all human sources specialists suggest creating an employee handbook in your company.

Key takeaway: An employee handbook can streamline your business operations, improve your company culture, and shield your business from legal responsibility in the occasion of a lawsuit.

What ought an employee handbook embrace?

An employee handbook will embrace many sections, and a few may need sections that others do not. While no two employee handbooks are precisely alike, most ought to have the next sections.

Company Policies

The bulk of your employee handbook ought to be company policies protecting these areas:

  • Employee conduct
  • Equal employment alternatives
  • Disciplinary motion
  • Social media use
  • Workplace safety
  • Attendance, working hours, a day off, and sick depart
  • Substance abuse
  • Expensing
  • Selling

Non-contract assertion

Include a clause clearly stating that the handbook just isn’t an alternative to a proper employment contract. Tell your employees that receiving an employee handbook doesn’t assure continued employment.

At-will employment

Relatedly, embrace a clause stating that every one of your company’s employees is employed at will. The phrases of at-will employment permit you to terminate an employee for any motive, at any time, with no advance notice.

Some employment contracts and employee handbooks state not simply that employees are employed at will, but, that they’ll additionally depart their jobs for any motive, at any time, with no advance notice.

Employee handbook authority

It’s necessary to incorporate a clause stating that the present model of your company’s employee handbook is the go-to model. This means, that as you revise your handbook based mostly on employee suggestions, your employees will know that older variations are invalid.

The nature of handbook modifications

State that the policies in your employee handbook are subject to vary at any time. This offers you the facility to vary your company’s policies as wanted without being in search of intensive employee suggestions. You also need to explicitly state how employees can count on to obtain notice of handbook modifications.

Company History

Including your company history in your employee handbooks is not as strictly necessary as are among the different clauses listed right here, however educating your employees in your company’s evolution by no means hurts. Plus, your company history is a useful precedent to a lot more widespread part in employee handbooks: the company mission assertion.  How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes

Company mission assertion

Near the start of your employee handbook, you might wish to present your company mission assertion so your employees know the objectives they will work towards.

Be cautious to not conflate an announcement of your business objectives along with your perfect employee therapy procedures – let your employee handbook’s different sections converse to compensation, advantages, and different key employment components.

Onboarding process

Creating requirements for the way you will onboard each new rent can massively streamline this process – as can handing your employees a document that explicitly states your onboarding process.

When your employees have as a lot of information about your onboarding process as your human sources and hiring groups do, their earliest days along with your team might be a lot simpler for everybody.

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Employment legislation fundamentals

In your employee conduct policies, it is best to firmly ban sexual harassment and describe the disciplinary actions you will take when employees carry accusations to your human resources team. But what in case your company faces a lawsuit too? That’s the place where your employment legislation fundamentals clause is available.

A bit of employment legislation can educate employees on their rights and the situations below which they’ll sue for sexual harassment or another infraction.

This primer will help your employees really feel protected within the office while fortifying your defenses in the wake of a lawsuit. Simplest of all, it is simply good to point out to your employees that they’ve recourse in the event that they need it.

Contact information

Some employee handbooks embrace key company contacts’ email addresses and telephone numbers. You can select to list contact information for simply yourself or for all company executives, or you can embrace a full employee listing.

A big employee listing could also be more helpful if saved digitally so employees can merely click on email addresses rather than manually typing them.

Nondisclosure and non-compete agreements

If you require your employees to signal nondisclosure and non-compete agreements, you’ll usually embrace these in your employee handbook. You ought to have new employees signal these agreements before beginning their work.

Employee benefits

A radical guide to employee advantages is likely one of the most necessary issues to incorporate in your small business employee handbook.

Sure, you will talk about employee advantages resembling medical depart and trip time in your handbook’s attendance policies part, however, it is best to element them right here too. These are other employee advantages that it is best to talk about in your employee guide:

  • Health insurance coverage
  • Retirement plans
  • Commuter advantages
  • College financial savings plans
  • Wellness applications
  • Workplace perks
  • Child care applications

The employee advantages part of your handbook ought to state which of those advantages your company affords, which employees qualify for these advantages, and the way your employees can work with you and your human resources team to access and keep these advantages.

In most instances, you will get away with not mentioning any advantages you do not provide, however, it is best to at all times element your health insurance coverage and retirement plan choices (or lack thereof), since these are probably the most sought-after advantages.

Employee signature web page

At the end of your small business employee handbook, it is best to leave space in your employees to signal and acknowledge that they have a duplicate of the handbook and perceive its contents. You may additionally wish to restate that every policy is subject to vary and a description of how employees can provide recommendations, questions, and issues.

Key takeaway: Some of the very powerful parts of employee handbooks are sections on company policies, employment phrases, profit choices, onboarding fundamentals, and a company mission assertion.

Is there something that ought to be excluded from an employee handbook?

When you are crafting an employee handbook, it is best to give attention together with all of the necessary parts rather than omitting doubtlessly ineffective, complicated content. That mentioned, you might do effectively to exclude these provisions:

  • Overly strict social media use policies: Many employers and HR specialists urge business homeowners to implement social media policies, however overly strict policies can backfire. If you ban your employees from talking negatively about your company on social media, you might violate their rights below Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Yes, it is best to call out social media libel about your company wherever you see it, however, no, you can’t craft social media policies limiting your employees’ rights to free speech.
  • Inflexible disciplinary policies: Few HR specialists would converse badly with disciplinary policies at massive, however, some may urge employers to implement free disciplinary policies. A policy that permits supervisors to deviate from a typical step-by-step disciplinary process rather than blindly adhere to it equips higher-ups to sort out critical infractions.
  • Sections lifted from irrelevant templates: This concern pertains to the considerably widespread employer follow of shopping for an employee handbook template rather than creating one from scratch.

Key takeaway: Don’t make your social media policy too strict, your disciplinary policies too inflexible, or your handbook too reflective of a template.

Should you purchase or write an employee handbook?

A small business employee handbook can take some time to create, so some employers buy an employee handbook template and fill it the blanks as needed. Others fee a marketing consultant to create a brand-new handbook. Many specialists discourage each of these approaches.

For starters, hiring a marketing consultant to write down your employee handbook can cost thousands of dollars. Also, small companies that undertake templates might wind up with policies and bylaws that only bigger corporations can feasibly implement.

That’s why many specialists recommend writing your individual employee handbook. Granted, there’s nothing incorrect with utilizing a template to inform your handbook’s construction and provisions, however, ensure to not precisely copy the template’s textual content – modify it to suit your company’s culture, construction, size, and trade.

Key takeaway: The simplest employee handbooks are written from scratch, although templates could also be useful for guiding construction and part titles.

Creating a Comprehensive Small Business Employee Handbook Template

A Well-Structured Introduction

In crafting a small business employee handbook, it is paramount, to begin with a comprehensive introduction that not only welcomes new employees but also sets the tone for their journey within the company. A well-worded and thoughtfully designed introduction should convey the organization’s mission, vision, and core values, providing employees with a clear understanding of the company’s overarching goals and principles. This section can serve as an anchor for the rest of the handbook, establishing a sense of belonging and alignment with the company’s culture.

Table of Contents: Navigating the Handbook

To ensure that employees can easily access the information they need, a table of contents should be included at the beginning of the handbook. This navigational tool not only guides employees through the document but also underscores the handbook’s organization and professionalism. The table of contents should be organized logically, with clear headings and subheadings, allowing employees to swiftly locate relevant policies, procedures, and guidelines.

Company Overview: Who We Are and What We Do

An employee handbook should encapsulate the essence of the organization, outlining its history, mission, and core business activities. Delve into the company’s origins, its evolution, and the pivotal milestones it has achieved. This narrative approach provides employees with a broader perspective, enabling them to connect with the company’s journey and appreciate their role within it. Emphasize the company’s unique selling points and competitive advantages to instill a sense of pride and commitment among employees.

Employment Policies: Navigating the Work Environment

Within this section, the handbook should comprehensively outline the company’s employment policies, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring procedures, equal employment opportunity, and anti-discrimination policies. It should also address key aspects of employment, such as job classifications, working hours, and overtime policies. Be sure to cover matters related to probationary periods, performance evaluations, promotions, and transfers, offering clarity on how employees can progress within the organization.

Code of Conduct: Upholding Professionalism

The code of conduct section should elucidate the company’s expectations for employee behavior and ethics. This encompasses guidelines on punctuality, dress code, workplace demeanor, and communication etiquette. Additionally, it should address issues such as conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and the use of company resources. Emphasize the importance of maintaining a positive and respectful workplace culture, and outline the consequences of violating the code of conduct.

Compensation and Benefits: Your Rewards for Dedication

The compensation and benefits section of the handbook should provide a comprehensive overview of the employee’s total compensation package. This includes details on salary structures, pay schedules, bonuses, and other forms of remuneration. Explain any benefits the company offers, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and leave policies. Offering transparency about compensation and benefits not only fosters trust but also helps employees appreciate the full value of their employment.

Health and Safety: Prioritizing Employee Well-being

Addressing health and safety concerns is pivotal in ensuring a safe and productive work environment. This section should delve into the company’s commitment to maintaining a safe workplace, detailing safety protocols, emergency procedures, and the reporting of incidents. Moreover, it should outline the company’s stance on workplace wellness initiatives, emphasizing the importance of employee health and well-being.

Leave and Time-Off: Balancing Work and Life

Employees need clear guidance on how to request and utilize various forms of leave and time-off. This section should cover policies related to vacation, sick leave, personal leave, and holidays. Explain the procedures for requesting leave and the expectations for providing notice. Providing this information empowers employees to manage their work-life balance effectively.

Conclusion: A Commitment to Excellence

In concluding the handbook, reiterate the company’s commitment to excellence, the significance of each employee’s role in achieving organizational goals, and the importance of adhering to the handbook’s policies and guidelines. Encourage employees to reach out to the HR department or management if they have any questions or concerns. End on a positive note, expressing gratitude for their dedication and contribution to the company’s success.

How typically ought employee handbooks be up to date?

Distributing your handbook just isn’t fairly the ultimate step. You ought to replace your employee handbook at the very least yearly and review it semiannually. Business – Money Making – Marketing – Ecommerce

And spend the time between your review and your rewrite jotting down notes about possible new policies or modifications to old policies. Come rewrite time, transform your notes into a brand new handbook – after which ship it around to employees to review, acknowledge, and signal.

You ought to replace your small business employee handbook at the very least yearly and review it every six months.

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