Communicating personnel policies, work rules, expectations, benefit plans, and overall organizational philosophy to employees is vitally important to any business. Well-drafted, easy-to-understand work rules are imperative to getting your employees up to speed with your business’ culture. In fact, good communication and documentation often increases employee retention, as it fosters trust and builds employee confidence in the organization.
A sound employee handbook can prove beneficial in several ways, including improving employee morale, avoiding litigation, and increasing consistent application of workplace policies and discipline. From an employee perspective, the employee handbook provides guidance, sets expectations, and provides information regarding policies and procedures that apply to the workplace. The employee handbook can also prove a valuable resource for employees with respect to employee benefit plans and can free up managers’ time from answering questions regarding such programs.
As for employers, the greatest benefit that an employee handbook can provide is the legal protections from properly drafted and disseminated policies and procedures.
Clearly establishing a set of behavioral expectations demonstrates that an employer is not contributing to the employee’s bad behavior. Setting clear performance and behavioral expectations can also help the employer consistently spot and address violations. Relying on loosely defined standards that are not properly documented can lead to violations that become subjective and open to interpretation. The result of such ambiguity is often inconsistent treatment, which can lead to litigation.
Employers often adopt exhaustive written personnel policies that govern relationships with current employees because a written policy can be an effective tool for defending lawsuits. Putting policies and procedures in written form also provides practical benefits. From the manager’s perspective, a properly written and regularly updated employee handbook can serve as a tool for communicating performance expectations, establishing applicable work rules, setting disciplinary policies, and telling employees about the benefit plans that the employer offers.
An employee handbook can also provide support to your managers. When faced with a personnel issue, an employee handbook can provide guidance and certainty to the decision-making process.
To be effective, an effective employee handbook must be tailored to your policies, your business, your goals, and your workforce. It is an investment that can pay dividends in increased productivity, improved employee morale, and minimized litigation.
One Size Does Not Fit All
While employee handbooks can be written by software programs or by consulting services, know that there is no single template that is right for every business.
To ensure that policies are correct and remain current, employers should discuss current issues that lead to new statutes with an attorney or human resource professional who specializes in employment policies or employment law for the hospitality industry
For more guidance on what should be included in your employee handbook, review Appendix A below.