Case study – employee handbook rollout
Over the years we have posted several Updates about the importance of employee handbooks and how to use them effectively. This month’s case study has some tips on making the handbook rollout process more effective so that it is an effective tool for your managers as well as increasing understanding with your employees.
Having worked on many employee handbooks over the years we realize the amount of time and effort an organization can put into creating or updating one. It’s a daunting task if you have an old one or never had one…it can be really hard to strike a balance with being comprehensive and compliant with readability and practicality. Fortunately this can be sorted out during the drafting process and our clients end up with something they feel sets the right tone for their organization.
The process for rolling it out is equally important. While it may seem like a company meeting and a deadline for returning signed handbook acknowledgements is all there is to it, there are some things you can do to make the process work better and ultimately make it into a more useful tool.
- Make sure your supervisors know how to get the most out of your employee handbook. As we shared in this Update, a key part of a successful employee handbook rollout is having your front-line supervisors involved in the process. From helping draft policies to making sure they can be practically applied, it is critical they are involved in the process. When the handbook is completed, start by rolling it out to them first. Have a training session [we recommend at least 90 minutes] to cover the areas they will deal with the most. Don’t try to cover everything…focus on what they need to know to do their jobs effectively. Give the supervisors time to review, ask questions, and understand the handbook before their employees receive it.
- Distribute the handbook to all employees in advance. We recommend that you provide the handbook to employee several days before you convene a meeting to review it with them. Allow them time to review the contents and encourage them to prepare questions that can be covered at the rollout meeting. You can give them the choice of submitting their questions directly or anonymously if that makes them more comfortable.
- Hold your rollout meeting for all staff. Depending on the organization, 30 to 60 minutes should be sufficient. It’s not necessary to cover every policy but you can focus on the ones that are most important or meaningful to employees. Use the time to respond to the questions employees submitted. It’s a good idea to document who attended the meeting; this in addition to signed acknowledgements helps you if there are future employment disputes.
Employee handbooks are always useful…keeping them current and training supervisors and employees to use them effectively should help reduce employment issues and strengthen your supervisors’ capabilities.