Whether you’re compiling an employee handbook for the first time or you’re using the new year as an excuse to revise and revamp your current company documents, use this employee handbook checklist to make sure you have your bases covered.
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While the task of creating or updating an employee handbook might seem daunting for a small business (really, who has the time?), it’s one of the most important tools to set your business up for success.
Employee handbooks put your policies in writing and outline expectations for your employees. They also help protect your company in the event of legal trouble (e.g. if you terminate an employee).
Whether you’re compiling an employee handbook for the first time or you’re using the new year as an excuse to revise and revamp your current company documents, here’s an employee handbook checklist that will ensure you’ve included all of the important elements that employee handbooks are intended to cover.
The best place to start is with a well-crafted introduction. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — simply welcoming your new employees to the team goes a long way. This is also an area of your employee handbook that you can use to outline what’s covered in the coming pages and who your employees should talk to if they have any questions or concerns about what they read.
Company history and values
A nice segue into learning about your company — which is one of the central functions a good employee handbook — is to explain what your company is all about. Here is where you will want to discuss your company’s culture as well as its mission, vision, values, and any other unique or pertinent information that can help new additions fit into their new role a little easier.
Does your company practice at-will employment? Do you expect your employees to give 2-weeks notice when they decide to leave? This section will cover anything and everything related to employment policies at your company. You’ll also want to outline compensation policies that cover when employees will get paid and how (i.e., whether or not methods like direct deposit are available and how an employee can get signed up).
This is an especially important section to include and carefully consider since it can be critical in the event of a lawsuit.
Additional company policies
There are certain necessary policies that you’ll want to cover, like anti-discrimination policies.
This is also where you will want to outline how your company handles everything from promotions and raises to review processes and safety procedures.
How does your company deal with transfers and relocations? Do you offer relocation assistance?
Do you offer rewards to employees who refer applicants whom you ultimately hire? What about disciplinary procedures? If you have a performance improvement policy in place, this is where you will want to outline it.
If you offer perks like working from home, you’ll want to include a section that covers other company policies that aren’t related to employment, compensation, and the like.
This is where you’ll want to discuss procedures related to company property like whether or not employees are allowed to take work computers home or use them for personal purposes. Outlining the policies related to communication through company property like laptops and cellphones is an important element to consider and include as well.
This is the section that most of your employees will be most interested in since benefits are a major draw for most employees. Does your company match 401(k)s or offer a health savings account? If you offer health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance and more, this is the section where you will want to outline what your company offers as well as the information that employees need to know to choose plans, get registered, etc.
Paid time off and leave policies
In today’s modern workplace there are a variety of different paid time off and leave options that you can offer. Do you offer paid time off at all? Do you offer flexible or remote work options?
What about sick time and vacation days? Do you offer parental leave? You’ll also want to be sure to cover legal elements such as the Family and Medical Leave Act that also impact time off.
This is also where you will want to discuss procedures for requesting or notifying management about time off and any other logistical information employees need to navigate your company’s paid time off and leave policies.
This section will outline what’s expected from employees who work in the office and explain how employees are expected to conduct themselves on a day-by-day basis.
If you have a dress code, this is the section where you will want to outline what that entails. Do you have policies around fraternization and employee relationships? What about visitors to the workplace? Do you expect that the company internet connection will be used for business alone? Or is there leeway for employees to use the internet and other amenities like printers for personal use? What about hiring or supervising relatives?
These are the more interpersonal and daily office life considerations that you’ll want to cover in the office conduct section of your employee handbook.