When was the last time you saw that a state or federal employment law had been updated? Today? Yesterday? Last week? In fact, when was the last time your company's employee handbook was reviewed and updated? If your answer is, "More than 12 months ago," it may be (past) time to take another look. With all of the political chatter, sexual harassment claims, updates in state minimum wage, as well as parental and sick leave laws, things are constantly changing, and the need to update the employee handbook in a timely manner has become critical.
A company handbook is designed to provide new and existing employees with general information on policies, expected behaviors, procedures, workplace culture and values, and expectations. It’s advised that an employee sign an acknowledgment form stating they have read and understand the policies contained in the handbook. The acknowledgment form should then be kept in the employee file.
Examples of common policies found in employee handbooks include, but are not limited to, code of conduct, communications and social media, nondiscrimination and harassment, use of personal devices, discipline, compensation and benefits, workplace safety, time-off and leave of absence, and employment/termination.
The employee handbook should be distributed and made easily available for employee reference, but it does not need to necessarily be provided in printed format. A lot of employers are turning to electronic copies that employees can view on their mobile devices or computers at their convenience. Acknowledgment forms can also be completed electronically and stored in the employee’s records. Ideally, this entire process will all be paperless, with an advanced Human Capital Management system automating and capturing the steps via employee self service functionality.
There is not a one-size-fits-all guide to managing employees. What works for one organization may not work for another. As mentioned earlier, employee handbooks should provide employees with an understanding of the culture and values at the organization. In addition to providing all of the rules to be followed and required legal disclosures, it is also okay to let employees know they are valued and cared for; even to have a little fun with the messaging, if that aligns with the culture of the company. Be prepared to be flexible and not too specific, leaving room for policy modifications.
For additional general guidance on employee handbooks
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