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7 Things You Need To Know Before Creating An Employee Handbook

7 Things You Need To Know Before Creating An Employee Handbook

Starting your own business is a difficult venture. You have to take care of a plethora of things and even then success is never guaranteed. Only after you go through several trials and tribulations, and learn from your experiences will you finally be able to carve your name in the world of entrepreneurship. In this world, the one who perseveres is the one who survives.

Employees are the part and parcel of any company. Having employees on board is one thing; making them follow your lead is entirely another. The success of a company is engrained in the ability of the employers to manage their employees. Discipline, work ethic, professionalism and dedication are vital components of a well-run organization. All these requirements are encapsulated in an employee handbook that is generally unique to a company. An employee handbook guides all employees on how to behave and conduct themselves in the realm of an office space. Basically, it is a summary of the organization’s policies and regulations.

The following are some of the things you should know before you write an employee handbook. Mind you, these are just guidelines to help you with the writing process. Writing the perfect employee handbook is an art in itself. You cannot simply conjure an all-encompassing, well-written handbook out of thin air. In fact, it takes years of experience, effort and constantly updating yourself with the times to write the perfect one. As always, practice makes perfect.

1. Why do you need an employee handbook?

All companies have policies––formal or informal––that dictate the terms of employment and expectations from its employees. Having clearly defined policies in one document creates an easily accessible record for the company hierarchy.

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For new employees, you may use this handbook to easily introduce them to the company’s rules and regulations. With an employee handbook, you don’t need to run around telling everyone how to behave in the office.

2. A handbook can protect you in court.

Running a company is not easy work. There are a thousand things that can go wrong, and sooner or later, you might even have to be in a court battling a disgruntled ex-employee. Say, he files a case believing he didn’t deserve to get sacked –– you might have to take the blame for someone else’s wrongdoing.

The same laws may not be universally applicable, or there may be distinct laws based on the nature of your business. Having a hard copy of your company’s rules and regulations is. therefore, vital as everything you want to address will be established in writing. Further, if you do not have the policies deemed necessary by legislation, you could be prosecuted and fined.

3. “Must have” handbook provisions

There are many indispensable provisions that must be included in your handbook. Some of these are related to the well-being of the employees. Violence and harassment in the workplace are inexcusable and must be forbidden.

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A company must include an occupational health and safety policy. Human rights is another issue that has been in the spotlight for several years now. The latter two policies are absolutely necessary, especially in the construction industry.

4. “Good to have” and other handbook provisions

Your employee handbook can cover an extensive scope of policies that sometimes may include some unorthodox policies as well. They may be out-of-the-box, but addressing these policies may sometimes be crucial for the functioning of your company.

Say that two employees fall in love at work and start exhibiting public displays of affection much to the chagrin or amusement of other employees. This may affect the overall performance of the company and having a policy on such issues can firmly draw the line between work and personal life.

Privacy, computer and internet policy, work attendance, overtime, pregnancy, etc. are some other policies which may be instrumental to the company’s operation.

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5. Remember, it’s only a guide

Sometimes, an employee handbook may be misinterpreted as a contract statement. But unless you want it to be treated so, it is better to explicitly state at the outset that the handbook is not intended to be used as a contract document.

This is critical, like in the case of employment-at-will, which means that the boss can fire an employee at his will for any reason (except discrimination or other exceptions). Every now and then, you might want to exercise that power to let people off whenever you want.

But, if your handbook specifically lists reasons for termination, without proper disclaimers, these may be considered as the ONLY legal base for termination, if the handbook is considered a contract.

6. Communicating your employee handbook

As mentioned above, a handbook can help defend your company in a court case. But if an employee can somehow prove that they never saw or read a copy, the court can’t help you at all.

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So, make sure that all your employees have read and agreed to the terms written down in the handbook. Ask them to sign a statement saying that they have done so and also notify them in case of any updates or new additions. A meeting to review policy changes will also serve well.

Make your handbook pleasing to the eye and easy to understand, avoiding jargon wherever possible. Title it unconventionally if you want; this is your company’s handbook, not a lesson in literature. Use one that will engage your employees and articulate your company’s culture right away.

7. Consult an employment attorney

As your company grows, and your handbook incorporates a wide range of policies, it may become tedious to update these policies regularly. Not to mention, when your company opens a branch in a new part of the country, it may require new policies in accordance with the jurisdiction there.

These laws may sometimes be overlooked, which can have serious implications for the company. Having an attorney comes in handy in these situations. And these employee handbooks should be reviewed at least once every two years.

The times change fast, and updating these policies regularly may be the key to your company becoming the next big thing or languishing in bankruptcy.

Featured photo credit: Wikipedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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