One of the most exciting parts of the entrepreneurship journey is the one where you start building your teams. The bigger your staff becomes, the greater your need for an employee handbook. In fact, an employee handbook is a necessity regardless of the size of your team.
The content of your employee handbook will largely be drawn from your company’s existing policies, so compiling your handbook is a great opportunity to re-assess those and create new ones where there is a need. Both you and your employees will appreciate the fact that all the company need-to-knows will now be compiled into one simple, easy-to-read document.
Best of all? A comprehensive employee handbook sets the tone for open communication and transparency from the get-go, lays the foundation for company culture, and protects you as the employer from potential legal liability.
Here are the basics of developing an employee handbook for your small business:
This section should include a short introduction to the company, as well as a detailed overview of your vision, mission, and values. This part of the handbook must give the reader a clear idea of why your company exists, and what it aims to achieve.
The company overview section is vital in setting the tone not only of this document, but of the company itself. If your industry can allow for it, try and keep the tone light and conversational rather than dreary and laced with all kinds of jargon. The goal is to make employees want to read it, so make sure it’s written in an inviting way.
Standard employment information
This section will likely form the bulk of the employee handbook, and will become a go-to for your staff. If done right, the information supplied here will avoid hours of back-and-forth between staff and yourself (or your HR representative), which gives you an idea of how comprehensive it should be. It should include the following at the very least:
- Payment rates and schedules
- Company benefits
- Probation periods
- Working hours, including breaks and overtime policies
- Performance reviews and conditions of increases and bonuses
- Leave (including annual, parental, sick, paid and unpaid)
- Discipline and termination
Diversity, equality, and anti-discrimination
Make clear your company’s stance on upholding a diverse and equal workplace, detailing the significance of a non-discriminatory policy when it comes to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. This section can also expand on what constitutes discrimination and harassment, so that all staff are well-informed at all times.
It’s important to include the steps and procedures to follow should discrimination or harassment occur. Your employees should feel safe and free to address this with management.
Code of conduct
Admittedly, ‘code of conduct’ makes it sound very much like a school laundry list of rules to follow. Whatever you choose to call it, your employee handbook must cover the basic rules of the workplace to ensure the respect and well-being of fellow employees.
Often, this is comprised of common-sense things like punctuality and confidentiality, but your company and/or industry may have very specific rules that will need to be included here. How strict the rules are, and the measures you take to enforce them is entirely up to you, though this will also need to be mentioned in detail within the employee handbook.
There is a range of free templates available online to guide you in creating your company’s employee handbook, like this one by Human Resource Solutions , for example. The important thing is to have your company policies clear and up-to-date. This makes compiling the handbook so much easier and quicker.
Of course, an employee handbook is yet another item added to the list of the entrepreneur’s relentless to-do list. Enlisting the services of a virtual assistant may be the smarter, more cost-effective way to do it, granted you have all your information ready to compile. Visit our website to find out more.