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The Employee Handbook: more than just a doorstop

An Employee Handbook brings a number of benefits to a business. That said, the last thing anyone needs is an encyclopaedia (remember them?) length manual everyone avoids so here’s some food for thought if you’re considering introducing a Handbook to your business.

It’s a handbook, not the Bible

A well written Employee Handbook should be concise: you want your employees to read it. It should not be a procedures manual for every HR process. Cramming in too much is a sure-fire way of your people switching off and your Handbook being used as a doorstop.

Unless you’re BHP, you don’t need BHP’s Employee Handbook

Some of the information freely available on the Internet is great but how do you know what’s relevant or Fair Work compliant? For your Handbook to be effective, it should be tailored to your business: your industry, people, operating environment and customers.

What’s important: the dollars or the orphans?

Perhaps the most important aspect of your Employee Handbook is the introduction of new employees to your corporate culture and what they need to do to fit in and succeed. This helps foster a sense of belonging and engagement, which studies show helps newbies become more productive in a shorter period of time. The Handbook should clearly state your business objectives. Be truthful: if revenue is your primary driver of your business existence, let people know this and define your expectations around associated levels of performance and conduct.

Leaders need guidance too

While providing employees with clear, accessible information around safety, timekeeping and performance, Managers can also benefit from a Handbook when answering questions or making decisions to ensure their answers and actions are consistent with your business policies and expectations.

High visibility is not just for tradies

Keep the Handbook somewhere your employees can see it. A hardcopy in the lunchroom (toilet is not such a good idea), posted on the company intranet or e-copy provided to employees upon commencement are common options. Make reference to the Employee Handbook regularly to raise/maintain awareness of its existence.

It’s for your employees but it covers your butt too

The policies and procedures within your Employee Handbook can help you when faced with employee disputes or having to defend your business against legal claims. A thorough and compliant Employee Handbook will demonstrate that the organisation exercises reasonable care and due process towards its employees. The employee’s signed acknowledgement page will show that the employee had an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the organisation’s policies, a chance to ask related questions, knew whom they could turn to for help within the organisation, and agreed to follow the terms and conditions of employment set forth by the organisation. All connected, see?

This is old, dude

No rocket science here: keep it updated. Check the content at least every six months.

If creating your own Employee Handbook seems like the time consuming mission from hell, why not speak to someone who’s written and managed them before? With over 20 years in the HR game, the support you need is only a phone call away. Phone phobia? It’s all good…email Bare Bones Consulting here and we’ll get back to you.

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.