The Importance of Employee Handbooks

May 2, 2014

The Importance of Employee HandbooksHow many words are there in your employee handbook?

A recent article in May’s edition of People Management highlighted the Employee Handbook for Fashion Retailer Nordstrom – it contains just 75 words!

A well written handbook doesn’t have to be war and peace (although we would suggest maybe a little more than 75 words!). However it should give clear communication between the employer and employee, setting out the expectations.

Yet it is a bind updating your handbook every time there is a change in employment law.  This, I believe is something that most employers aim to do but unfortunately due to increasing workloads and demands, is something that often gets left until there is a problem. Regular updating is one of the most important benefits of documents from QCS.

Regardless of the employer’s size whether 5 employees or 7,000, the purpose of the employee handbook is to provide clear boundaries for the employee.

As an employer you should:

  • Set out the polices in the handbook clearly.
  • The name of individual policies is important, does your policy come under the heading of ‘Absence’ or ‘Attendance Management’. It’s essential you get this right as you may require the polices in a hurry. But if you keep your policies in an online handbook then this is less of a problem because they can be searched for easily using key words.
  • Handbooks should be checked by human resource specialists, unless of course you use policies from QCS, who will do this for you.
  • Keep in touch with changes throughout the year, not just in April and October – don’t be caught out.
  • Train your managers on the policies so they are empowered to make decisions.
  • Make sure they know what policies exist and that they don’t just put the handbook on the shelf and forget about it!

You should aim to provide this important information to employees during the induction process. That way employees will be more likely to refer to them, understand expectations and to follow the rules. Managers can then fulfil their duties by managing effectively and will need to rely on human resource advice for exceptional situations only.

Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor


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