When does a small business need an Employee Handbook?

September 2, 2008

If you have employees, you need an employee handbook.

 

Improve your existing policies
Writing an employee handbook is to your employment policies what writing a business plan is to your business. It is the act itself that can help you improve. Let’s face it, as small business owners we are often so busy that we can neglect our employee issues.  When this happens our interactions can become an exercise in putting out fires, rather than acting proactively.

 

By partnering with an expert, whether your attorney or an HR professional to think through policies that will help your business run more effectively, you are taking the first step to becoming an employer of choice.

 

Stay out of court
Many times the key to staying out of court is in consistency.  Without having clear expectations written down consistency is difficult.

 

Because some states regard an employee handbook as an employment contract, handbooks can sometimes be a detriment to employers who find themselves in court. However, you can minimize your risk by using precise language and effective disclaimers.

 

Motivate your employees
Employees are at their best when they know exactly what you expect of them.  You can use your employee handbook as a tool not only to lay down the law of the land, but also to let employees know exactly what they are working towards.  Add sections about performance appraisals, raises, and promotions to let your employees know what steps to take to get ahead. 

 

Create excitement

When hiring someone new an employee manual can be used to communicate your desired culture and make your company appear more professional.  Use the first few sections of your handbook to give a history of your company, your mission and values, and add a welcome letter to let them know who your company is.  The first day can set the tone for years of great success.

 

When rolling out a handbook to existing employees, take it as an opportunity to create excitement.  Let them know how much you have grown and plan on growing in the future and be sure to let them know how they have contributed to that growth.

 

Buyer beware

If you google “Employee Handbook” you will find thousands of sites offering inexpensive handbooks that can be downloaded on the spot.  However, when you use somebody else’s handbook are you creating your culture?  Find a company that will partner with you in writing your handbook to ensure that it represents your company and not someone else’s.

 

You can find many great tools to get started on your employee handbook on our website, www.pwhrm.com.  There you will find a free sample employee handbook as well as a free quote form.

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