- The company rules, policies and procedures
- What to do in different situations
- What the employee can expect from their employer
- The expectations that the employer has of their employees in terms of conduct and behaviour
A handbook needs to set out the rights and responsibilities an employee has in the workplace. Without a strong foundation being established when an employee first joins your company, it can lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication and a failure to get the right results.
All businesses who have even one employee will benefit from having a staff handbook. Having one can increase your employee’s motivation, because they clearly understand what is expected of them. It can also be used to settle internal company disputes before they escalate and become unmanageable.
Read on to delve deeper into why staff handbooks are so important for all businesses.
The purpose of a staff handbook
A staff handbook is created to inform your employees about their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. You (the business owner) should encourage your team to refer to the staff handbook by storing it in a shared drive or intranet, so they can easily refer back to it at any time.
A handbook can provide clarity to employees on their rights, which is essential in making sure your staff feel valued and treated fairly. Furthermore, a well-written employee handbook can be invaluable in solving disputes between you (the employer) and your employee, because it sets out the parameters for what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace.
The structure of a handbook
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating an employee handbook. You can structure it in different ways and still create a hugely useful resource. However, HR Initiatives recommends that your handbook includes all of the following sections:
1. Employment policies
2. Health and Safety policies
3. Family Friendly policies e.g. maternity, paternity, adoption
5. Protection of data
6. Attendance and time off
7. Social media policies
8. Working flexibility
9. Disciplinary and grievance
When writing your staff handbook, you should think through ‘what if’ scenarios in your head. A well-written handbook will take care of the grey areas, and provide a solution to every workplace scenario that may arise.
If you are unsure of the full extent of what to include, do some research online for case studies where an employee handbook has been useful to a company.
What are the benefits of a staff handbook?
There are several significant benefits to creating a staff handbook. While the handbook will not on its own solve all employee disputes and make sure your staff are permanently satisfied, it will go some way to creating a strong foundation.
After all, if your employee doesn’t know the kind of business they are joining, and what their responsibilities are within it, then they are likely to feel ‘misled’ and leave your company sooner. Therefore, in this sense, your staff handbook can also help to increase your employee retention rate.
A staff handbook also helps to:
- Set clear expectations for employees
- Ensure your employees feel safe, valued and motivated
- Enforce important policies
- Minimise risk of tribunals and legal battles
- Provide a valuable reference point for you (the business owner)
In the hustle-and-bustle of daily business life, it is easy for business owners to forget the promises they have made to their staff. In an unfortunate situation, salary negotiations can be delayed; training on using new equipment can be forgotten; or refresher courses on social media conduct can fall to the bottom of the list.
Employee handbooks enable your staff to hold you to account, and they also provide a valuable reference point for you to fulfill all your commitments.
Reduce the risk of legal disputes
Organisations often struggle to combat legal disputes when they have failed to put their rules and agreements in writing. A staff handbook provides the perfect opportunity to make sure your business doesn’t make the same mistake.
Putting your policies in writing makes sure that no manager or employee can act in an out of order way, without consequence. Instead, everyone is obliged to follow the rules stated. When policies are applied accurately, a symbiotic employer-employee relationship will be established.
Furthermore, employees often raise disputes and make legal claims when there are no written-down policies and procedures in the company they are working in.
Without a handbook in place, your business therefore faces an increased risk of tribunals, harassment claims, wrongful termination claims and discrimination claims.
A handbook provides your business with legal protection.
The importance of staff handbooks
Many business owners underestimate the importance of staff handbooks. A well-written employee handbook can provide an invaluably strong foundation for employer-employee relationships. It will ensure everyone carries out their responsibilities, and will protect you in the event of a tribunal.
Unfortunately, most business owners don’t have the time or expertise to create a staff handbooks themselves – and that’s where outsourcing this work can be incredibly useful.
At HR Initiatives, we are experts in creating employee handbooks that provide clarity for everyone in your business.
We’d be happy to help you!