small business employee handbook

Why and How to Develop A Small Business Employee Handbook

(Last Updated On: September 2, 2021)

As with big businesses, a small business employee also needs a company handbook. Launching a brand new company definitely retains you busy. Not solely do you need to construct groups that can assist you with marketing, product creation, communications, gross sales, and more, however, you even have to coach your employees and ensure their work and behavior is 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 and particulars 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 to 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 within 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, however, 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, 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 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.

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 that 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 description the disciplinary actions you will take when employees carry accusations to your human sources team. But what in case your company faces a lawsuit too? That’s the place your employment legislation fundamentals clause is available.

A bit on 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, whereas fortifying your defenses within 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 listing 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 somewhat 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 sure 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 sources 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 depart 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 somewhat 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 of 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 somewhat than blindly adhere to it higher 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 somewhat 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 within the blanks as wanted. 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 price 1000’s of {dollars}. Also, small companies that undertake templates might wind up with policies and bylaws that solely 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 information 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.

How typically ought to 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, review it semiannually.

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 round to employees to review, acknowledge and signal.

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

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