It’s probably not going to surprise you to hear that you should have an employee handbook. After all, if you’ve ever worked with an HR professional, she or he likely referenced its importance to some degree.
However, many business owners and executives continue to view this document as a formality – failing to embrace its true value. From your employees’ experience to your operational efficiency, a professionally developed and comprehensive employee handbook contributes to a stronger company, a better work environment, and a reduced risk of workplace disputes.
1. Optimizing Your Onboarding Process
Your onboarding process for new employees sets the tone for their first year with your company, and your employee handbook gives them the information they require to get started on the right foot. It also helps to establish a sense of pride and belonging by discussing topics related to corporate culture, including your company’s mission, vision, and core values.
For direct supervisors and your HR team, the employee handbook also makes the onboarding process faster and more consistent – saving their precious time while ensuring every employee receives the same baseline of information.
2. Ensuring You Have Well-Defined Policies
To boil it down to the simplest terms: you can’t expect employees to follow rules that aren’t clearly defined. While you may think it’s widely understood that all employees should be in their chairs and working when the clock strikes 8:00am, others may not see it as a big deal to be 15 minutes late, as long as they make up the time at the end of the day.
Your employee handbook is where you define your company’s policies for everything from absenteeism to code of conduct to sexual harassment to disciplinary consequences (and everything in between). It creates uniformity throughout your organization, while helping to prevent misunderstandings and unfair applications of the rules.
3. Helping Employees Meet & Exceed Expectations
There’s nothing more frustrating than to feel that success is a moving target – but a well-developed employee handbook can remove the guesswork by defining what’s expected of employees and what employees can expect from management.
It also serves as a guidebook for your HR team and a reference manual for managers– aligning performance parameters with training and development initiatives and policies for reward, recognition, or discipline.
4. Defending Against Employee Complaints & Workplace Disputes
While ‘Compliance with State and Federal Laws’ is often the formality that prompts business owners to create an employee handbook, the importance of this compliance is often undervalued and misunderstood. The true value exists in the protection a comprehensive employee handbook provides. It is an essential document if you ever need to mount a defense against an employee lawsuit – especially with issues relating to discrimination or harassment.
That said, there are multiple ways in which an employee handbook can help to minimize the risk that such a dispute would rise to the level of a lawsuit.
- It creates a baseline education on appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors (with the goal of stopping unacceptable actions before they occur).
- It supports the consistent and objective application of rules and policies.
- It tells employees where they can turn for help and report complaints.
- It minimizes the chances that an employee will feel compelled to seek support from an outside resource – such as an attorney or government agency (DFEH, EEOC, DOL, etc.) – because they know that your company is genuinely committed to conducting unbiased professional investigations of complaints and correcting any issues that come to light.
The value of your employee handbook is dependent on the amount of effort you’ve put into developing it. It’s essential to consult with an expert on employee handbooks – someone who can review your current documents, make recommendations, and create the comprehensive handbook that you need.
We Provide Expert Guidance for Your Employee Handbook
Trusted in the community since 2007, CaliforniaLabor Solutions LLC (CLS) is a specialized HR consulting firm – based out of Orange County, California –that offers comprehensive, personalized, and scalable outsourcing services designed to grow with your evolving needs.
As Founder and CEO of CLS, Shawn Larry takes a solutions-driven approach to human resources – working to inspire confidence in the CEOs and managers who depend on his leadership. In addition to 20+years of experience in the field, Shawn has achieved many credentials and recognitions, including a J.D. from UOP-McGeorge Law School; California Private Investigator License; Certified Mediator; Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR); and Senior Certified Professional by IPMA-HR.