The SBDC has had the opportunity to offer an Employee Handbook seminar in the past as part of our seminar series. In this article, I would like to share some of the information learned regarding the importance of having a well-developed Handbook.
Many times small businesses don’t consider having an employee handbook due to the small number of staff they have, but it is important to be aware of the significance of written policies. Having an employee handbook will always benefit a business; you will be prepared for when your business grows and, hopefully, you won’t face the uncertainty of what you can or cannot do when employing and managing staff. In addition, you will have well defined employee policies that can settle disputes before they start and protect both your business and your employees from the potential of litigation.
A handbook won’t protect you against everything that can go wrong with your employees, but the policies and procedures will provide guidance for the fair and consistent treatment of employees as well as critical government regulatory policies and company policies.
Some things to keep in mind about employee handbooks are:
- Avoid lengthy policies and the overuse of legal terminology within the handbook. Employees who become frustrated with the amount of information and with complex policies will never read it.
- Make sure that the handbook is given to each employee and they provide documentation acknowledging the content.
- Employee handbooks can help improve employee morale by showing that you are interested in fair and consistent communication for your employees.
- It can set standards, bring new employees up to speed more quickly, and increase overall efficiency and professionalism.
- Although Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Conflict of Interest Statements are not legally required, having employees sign NDAs and conflict of interest statements help to protect your trade secrets and company proprietary information.
- It provides a clear explanation to employees that the company will make required deductions for federal and state taxes, as well as voluntary deductions for the company’s benefits programs.
- The company’s leave policies should be carefully documented, especially those required to provide by law. Family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases and voting should all be documented to comply with state and local laws. In addition, you should explain your policies for vacation, holiday, bereavement and sick leave.
These are just a few suggestions, and the discussions within these subjects contained a variety of regulations. Therefore, having the expertise from the Texas Workforce Development, a Professional in Human Resources, or by visiting with one of the advisors at the ASU SBDC will help greatly in the developing of your handbook.
“Business Tips” was written by Adriana Balcorta Havins, Senior Business Development Specialist IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact her at Adriana.Havins@angelo.edu.