An employee handbook or employee manual is a document where company policies are written so that the employees within an organization clearly understand them. It contains a company's vision, mission, goals, objectives, policies, regulations, procedures, and organizational code of conduct.
An employee handbook guides the employees to understand what is expected of them to carry out their daily duties and responsibilities.
In addition to serving as a guide for employees regarding how they should progress toward company goals, the handbook also helps employees remain anchored to the company culture and norms.
The employee manual also favors the employees as it enumerates employee rights and protects them from unfair treatment or discrimination during appraisals, promotions, compensation, and salary review.
Steps to Develop an Employee Handbook
A company must follow some guidelines to develop the employee handbook or manual. The company policy and procedures typically serve as the primary sources of creating an employee handbook.
Besides, local and state laws and regulations must be followed to make the manual legally compliant.
One thing to be noted is that an employee handbook isn't any contractual agreement between employers and employees. It only contains guidelines, instructions, and messages per company policies to abridge these two sides in business practices and cultures.
Below, the necessary steps to develop an employee handbook are mentioned:
Step 1: Review, Modify, or Correct Current Company Policies
Employers must concentrate on their existing company policies to start with the employee handbook development process.
If there are substantial and sustainable policies and procedures already in place and practice, employers must use them as guidelines to develop the employee handbook.
However, if there’s no company policy, culture, or procedures at all or partially developed, the officials must focus on fully developing them before getting their hands on the handbook making.
Step 2: Outlining the Handbook or Manual
The next step is to outline the employee handbook depending on the organizational size, current culture, number of employees, and branches.
Topics that should be included in the employee handbook are;
Company’s mission statement
At-will employment statement
Employee handbook purpose
EEO (equal employment opportunity) statement
Apart from the above elements, the company must consider including employee benefits following the federal and state statutes.
These may entail COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), Family and Medical Leave Act, Anti-Discrimination laws, EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), and ADA (the Americans with Disabilities).
Step 3: Make a Readable Summary of the Company Policies and Procedures
The very next step is to run down the company policies and procedures in a manner that speaks comprehensively to the employees.
It means the employees mustn't feel any clutter while trying to read and understand the policy statements.
There should be minimum use of hard-to-get legal terminologies and terms & conditions.
Step 4: Reviewing the Employee Handbook after Completion
Once the job is done, the HR official must review the employee handbook or manual to erase any mistakes, correct wherever needed, modify the information as required, and add further information.
While reviewing, the HR official or the assigned person must focus on maintaining language comprehension for the employees.
Step 5: Submitting the Handbook to the Company’s Legal Counsel
If the HR official or the assigned team is assured that the review is satisfactory, they will submit the book to legal counsel.
The legal counsel will review the final draft of the handbook to ensure there's no clause or information left that may make the manual look like a contractual agreement.
Step 6: Publishing
Upon getting the employee handbook draft approved by the legal counsel, the company should contact a publishing vendor, which they may select through quotations and proposals.
However, when a vendor is finalized, the concerned officials will work with the publisher through the publishing process, including formatting and designing.
If the formatting and designing are done, the draft should be sent to the management for final approval to publish the handbook.
Step 7: Distribution of Employee Handbook
Once the publishing of the employee handbook is taken care of, the company must distribute copies to each employee within the organization.
The management may also consider disbursing electronic copies through secure emails, official communication channels, or employees' emails.
What Must Be Included in an Employee Handbook?
Employers must be specific and lawful in developing an employee handbook. That's why knowing what elements to incorporate into an employee manual is vital.
However, an employee handbook must abide by the state and federal laws that regulate the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees.
Below are the mandatory and relevant components that make a sustainable employee handbook:
Equal Employment and Non-Discrimination Policies
Family Medical Leave Policies
Worker’s Compensation Policies
Note that States the Employee Handbook Isn’t a Contract
Note to Clarify that the Policies Mentioned Are Subject to Change
Adding an Employee Acknowledgement Page
Company History, Missions, Visions, and Goals
Payment and Promotion Policies
Paid Time-Off Policies
Policies for Attendance, Code of Conduct, Breaks, and Subsidiary Meals.
Employee and Workers' Benefit Policies, including insurance, bonus, healthcare, dental, and vision care.