What Employee Handbook Policies Need Revisions in the New World of Work?

As we enter the new world of work, here are the 5 main areas of your employee handbook that likely need updating.

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The girl communicates with her business colleagues via video conference by laptop. Remotely work

After more than a year and a half of scrambling just to keep things afloat amid a wide range of unprecedented changes to work life as we know it, chances are your employee handbook no longer matches the reality of work at your small business.

For many, there has been the shift to remote work and using new technologies to make that happen. There’s also figuring out when, and how, returning to working in the office will happen. These challenges have likely caused at least some confusion at your company about what exactly policies are nowadays.

Especially if you’re looking to bring new people on board, you’ll want to make sure that the employee handbook you give them is a useful and up-to-date reference for company policies and best practices.

Here are a few employee handbook policies that could probably use a second look.

Remote work policies

Working remotely is probably way different for your company now than it was in early 2020, isn’t it? That’s assuming your employee handbook was up to date right before the pandemic (and let’s be honest, updating your employee handbook is one of those tasks that seems to easily fall to the wayside).

Now is a great time to think about updating your remote work policies because, this far into the pandemic, chances are you’ve gotten a pretty good handle on how remote work should be conducted.

From expectations around communication and output, to tutorials on any new software you’ve implemented to facilitate working remotely, make sure your employee handbook’s policies on remote work match your company’s new reality.

Of course, this could change at any point as the pandemic shifts, so it’s not a bad idea to add some sort of direction for who employees should be asking about future changes or updates to remote working policies as they happen.

From expectations around communication and output, to tutorials on any new software you’ve implemented to facilitate working remotely, make sure your employee handbook’s policies on remote work match your company’s new reality.

Paid time off policies

We all had a lot thrown on us during the pandemic. From kids working from home to loved ones who got sick and might still be dealing with long-term effects, the demands on our lives are different than they were before the pandemic in some ways. In other ways, the pandemic just highlighted the precarious balancing of responsibilities that most of us do on any given day.

Now is a good time to look at your PTO policies and adjust as necessary. Maybe people want less formal sick days now and would just prefer flex time off to use as necessary (illness included). Maybe there’s been an increased demand for time off, so you have to look at how time off is granted and how employees’ work is covered in their absence.

Commuter benefits

Most people aren’t diving into work before because many people aren’t going into the office like they used to. Then there’s the changes to the types of transportation people are comfortable with — those who took public transportation to work before might not be willing or able to go back to a shared commute. Some may have discovered biking during the pandemic and prefer to get to work on 2 wheels.

Whatever the case, what you don’t want is a wasted benefit. If you used to pay for or subsidize parking or the cost of public transportation that your employees are no longer using, it’s time to rethink if this is a benefit you want to be offering this year.

If it is, you can consider rethinking how you offer commuter benefits. Maybe it’s just a flat amount of money that people can put towards buying a bike or maybe you let commuter benefits pile up and roll over to next year when people are more likely to use them again. Either way, you don’t want your employees out of a benefit because of the pandemic.

Physical health programs

Much like commuter benefits, the physical health benefits you have been offering in the past might not make as much sense anymore.

Whatever the case may be, do your best to sync your physical health benefits with the needs and desires of your employees. Not sure what those are? Just ask.

Did you subsidize gym memberships? A lot of people aren’t yet ready to go back to such an enclosed environment. Maybe you didn’t offer physical health benefits at all and now you’re realizing how important this benefit could be to your employees’ happiness during a turbulent time.

Whatever the case may be, do your best to sync your physical health benefits with the needs and desires of your employees. Not sure what those are? Just ask. Employee surveys are typically pretty helpful for this kind of stuff.

Mental health programs

It’s no wonder that employers are increasing their support for mental health services in the wake of the pandemic. Perhaps you didn’t offer mental health benefits before or you’re realizing that you want to beef them up. Either way, now is very much the time to not only revisit what you offer, but make sure that your employee handbook accurately reflects what is available to employees these days and how to access those services.

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