New Year’s Resolution #2: Review [and update] your employee handbook
When was the last time you updated your employee handbook? Y2K? Obama’s first term? When Breaking Bad was on TV? It wouldn’t surprise us…you finally get one distributed and before you know it, years have passed. The beginning of the new year is a good time to take a look at it and make any needed updates.
What’s the best way of going about this?
- Go back and review any memos or emails you have sent employees over the past few years that communicate policy or procedure changes. If they are still in effect, you may want to incorporate them in your new handbook.
- Check in with line supervisors and ask them what works well and what needs to change. You may find that needs in their departments require changes to help them run their function more effectively.
- Determine if there are any legal or compliance updates at the local and state level. Some municipalities have different requirements that the state as a whole. And of course we know many states have particular compliance requirements that need to be met.
- Check to see if there have been any changes at the federal level as well. A good place to start is the US Department of Labor website.
What else should you think about?
- Keep in mind that the handbook can be used to convey important cultural messages. Make sure that it reinforces these messages and is consistent with your other messages.
- While it is important to communicate employee rights and responsibilities, try to make it clear and easy for the lay person to understand. Avoid technical or legal jargon as much as possible.
- Don’t put anything in that you don’t intend to enforce. This can lead to inconsistent treatment of employees.
- Don’t make it an exhaustive policies and procedures manual. Convey what an employee ‘needs to know’ and leave the detailed internal administrative procedures for your P&P manual.
- Before you distribute the manual to all of your employees, distribute it to the managers and supervisors and schedule time to review key changes and the sections most relevant to them [time and attendance, discipline, etc.]. The handbook should be a tool to help them lead more effectively…make sure they know how to use it.
- Collect signed handbook acknowledgements from EVERYONE. No one should be exempted. Also, whether you update your handbook annually or not, get a new acknowledgement at least each year.
Finally, set a date to conduct your next review and update so that you stay on top of this and not let the years go by without making sure you are staying current.