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Blueprint For Creating or Updating an Employee Handbook

Saturday, September 1, 2018
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A well-written and comprehensive employee handbook has so many benefits, both to the employer and his or her employees. Benefits brokers can use the tools available in Broker Briefcase to help their clients write clear and useful handbooks for their own companies.

An employee handbook introduces new hires to the company culture, mission and values. When people start a new job, they want to know what makes their employer unique and how they can fit in.

The employee handbook also sets clear rules and guidelines, so that employees know what their boss expects from them, and alternatively, what they should expect from managers. The handbook is also one of your clients’ most important tools in ensuring compliance with labor laws and helps to protect the business in the event of an employee claim.

Finally, employee handbooks are an easily accessible source of information about the company’s benefits, promotion structure, available resources, and grievance procedures. They help employees understand their job, the company and the roles of the people they work with.

But not all employee handbooks are the same. Some companies have different needs that must be addressed in the employee handbook, such as federal and state regulations that need to be complied with. So how can you help your clients decide what to put into their employee handbooks?

We’ve created a blueprint with 8 essential elements for any employee handbook to help your clients decide what to put into theirs. This is just a baseline. If your client’s business operates in a -regulated industry, they may have to add additional sections.

8 Essential Elements for Any Employee Handbook

1. Mission Statement

Employees want to know that the company values its mission, and that the staff is working every day toward meeting an overarching goal. When your clients educate their staff on the mission statement, they are communicating their expectations that employees also must keep that goal in mind as they complete their work.

2. Benefits

It may not be necessary to include the entire benefits plan in the employee handbook. After all, you will provide clients with plenty of separate benefits information that they can provide to their employes. But a good handbook includes at least an outline of the benefits. Some information to include: eligibility, terms and pricing for health, dental and retirement plans. Also, include a list of any fringe benefits or perks that your clients offer.

3. Paid Time Off

Whether your client offers PTO or traditional sick and vacation benefits, they must have a written policy that tells employees when and how they can use it.

4. Harassment

In today’s environment, it is more important than ever to let all employees know that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Sexual harassment often makes the news, but other forms happen frequently as well. Harassment based on race, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation and religion can harm employees and damage your client’s business. The employee handbook should let the team know how and to whom they can report harassment complaints. It might also be a good idea to provide alternative reporting routes in the event that an employee doesn’t feel comfortable talking to the designated person about the harassment.

5. Social Media

You can bet that the vast majority of your clients’ staff uses Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Their company needs a policy that addresses appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media. The policy should include any consequences that employees might face if they fail to follow it.

6. Grievances

Your clients should let their employees know that the company is committed to addressing staff concerns. Include grievance procedures in the employee handbook. Your clients can decide the details of their own policy, but at a minimum, it should encourage employees to discuss their complaints with a supervisor or manager and let them know what the company will do to handle it.

7. Disciplinary Procedures

Writing down disciplinary procedures addresses two important goals. It lets your clients’ employees know what will happen if they violate the policies, and it relieves managers from having to make subjective decisions about discipline that could result in discrimination lawsuits.

8. Acknowledgement of Understanding

This is the most important element of any employee handbook. All employees must sign a page at the end of the handbook acknowledging that they have read and understood it. The HR Director should keep copies of each employee’s acknowledgement on file.

A well-written and comprehensive employee handbook benefits both employers and their employees. If you are still stuck and need a little more guidance in helping your clients draft theirs, check out some of our employment policy and benefits materials available in Broker Briefcase. And if you’re not already a Zywave partner, give us a call for a product demonstration. We’re happy to help!

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