Handbooks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they can be extremely useful for both employees and employers. I’ve seen handbooks that are LONG, and others that are the bare minimum. Some companies just don’t have them at all.
But why are they so useful?
- They help explain expected behaviours in your workplace – making sure that employees know what could happen if they don’t adhere to what you set out
- It can show where the company stands on a number of topics like harassment or flexible working
- It tells employees how they can request holidays, raise a complaint, understand your disciplinary policy – all in one place
- Handbooks help managers to align how they approach management of their teams, for example setting standards of behaviour, the process for investigation or disciplinary processes or how to respond to a grievance
- It ensures consistency across your business – it is very clear who is entitled to what, how behaviour is dealt with and reduces the likelihood of discrimination from treating employees differently
- Handbooks can help settle disputes – usually the answer for an argument about rights or even a simple holiday calculation can be found in the staff handbook.
Safe to say that without a handbook it can become a confusing and frustrating environment. Employees won’t know what is expected of them, employers can’t deal with issues or questions because there just isn’t a process to follow or somewhere to search for answers. Handbooks and policies come hand-in-hand for me as a bare minimum way for setting out your expected values and behaviours – for employees and managers.
Handbooks don’t need to be boring, monotonous and painful to read. You can really inject your own language and style into them, making them easy to read and easy to refer to. Getting employees on board with writing the content of your handbook, or checking first and second drafts, can really help improve the impact it has once it is published, too.
It’s really important that handbooks are readily available for all staff. This could be part of your induction programme for new starters (you could send one in the post before they even start), or available online in some form for easy access. While most employees won’t read them from cover to cover, they will at some point in their employment with you look up at least one thing that they need extra support or information on.
If you need help with writing (or updating) your handbook or policies, get in touch today.