Polices often result from disputes. Many business owners have learned that it is far better to have firm policies in place before disputes can arise. This often saves time and money since some disputes can lead to litigation.
The most convenient way to organize your company’s policies is by writing an employee handbook. Everyone gets a copy, and it’s easy to find and revise the policies as needed. However, it is important that your handbook be thorough and complete. Otherwise, you may have many of the same disputes that you would deal with if you didn’t have a handbook.
You may see the creation of a handbook as a tedious obligation you want to get out of the way, or you may see it as a challenge to bring your creative flair to an otherwise dry topic. In either case, the handbook is a critical tool and can be an effective way to establish a fair and consistent work environment. However, you will want to avoid these and other common mistakes:
- Writing policies that contradict each other in various sections of the handbook
- Creating a handbook that your employees perceive as a binding contract
- Including policies that you or your staff do not put into practice, especially those related to discipline
- Failing to distribute your handbook, either physically or digitally
- Using a generic, online handbook form that does not account for the unique factors in your business
Your handbook should not be carved in stone. In other words, it is wise to review your policies frequently so your handbook complies with changes in laws and best practices. It is also important to be willing to review any policies that seem to cause confusion or frustration among your employees.
Of course, the key to a successful employee handbook is often consistent adherence to the policies it contains. This involves making sure each employee receives and understands the handbook as well as training supervisors to react appropriately to policy violations. You also want to make sure your handbook includes the information required by California and federal law and that your handbook addresses important trends in employment law, such as dealing with sexual harassment or discrimination.
Your handbook can set the tone for your business and help you avoid legal issues that may paralyze your company and jeopardize your success. You may find it is worthwhile to consult with a skilled employment law attorney about the contents of your handbook.