Make sure your supervisors know how to get the most out of your employee handbook
As we have mentioned in other updates, one of the most valuable tools a supervisor can have is a good employee handbook. The employee handbook not only helps you communicate expectations to employees, it can be a great resource to help your supervisors work through employee issues quickly and effectively.
We find, though, that many of our clients have supervisors whose familiarity with the employee handbook is as deep as that of the employees…they remember reading it when they were hired and that was the last time they looked at it. This is a shame because many of the day-to-day employee matters they deal with could be resolved by checking the handbook.
What is the best way to get your supervisors to use the employee handbook more effectively? Here is your checklist to get started.
- Make sure you have a current employee handbook to start with. Laws change and so do your policies. To ensure your handbook is a useful tool, you should update it every two or three years. When you update it, make sure that you distribute it to all of your employees and have them sign the acknowledgement that they received it.
- Focus only on the things relevant to supervisors. Don’t hold a meeting in which you go through the new handbook page-by-page…focus on the things that they need to know TODAY. Things like time and attendance standards, first steps of corrective action, call-off procedures, etc. Also, make sure they are clear on their responsibilities if an employee makes a claim of harassment to them, and what they need to do if an employee is requesting an ADA accommodation. Other sections can be addressed later as circumstances dictate.
- When holding your training session, leave time for questions. Talking about handbook sections is important…and so is practical application. Leave a good half-hour [at least] to discuss real-world situations. Ask them to provide situations in advance…things that they are normally confronted with so that they can be discussed. Other supervisors may have found good solutions to similar problems they can share.
- Make them use it! If you get a call from a supervisor seeking help with an employee issue soon after the training session, ask them, ‘what does the handbook say?’ If they haven’t gone there first, ask them to do so then call if they still need help. Or ask them to pull their handbook, and using yours, go through it together to see what the answer may be. To get them to use it, you may need to do this to reinforce it as their starting point.
Training supervisors to use the employee handbook to resolve employee issues ensures they can do it with confidence and consistency. The small investment in training time will pay off with supervisors who can address most issues at their level and only involving senior when necessary.