Your Company Needs a Handbook

Your Company Needs a Handbook

Small Businesses are great! I try to shop small businesses and support the local economy as much as I can. I also love the personality of small businesses. They tend to be casual, friendly, and fun. So, when you start talking to them about handbooks, they tend to be apprehensive about adding them to their business. Handbooks feel restraining, unfriendly, and stuffy. In the several years that I have done HR, I have realized that the opposite is true.

Handbooks offer freedom within the company.

Handbooks set the expectations set forth for the company (this is how we do things here.)

Handbooks set the direction or the mission of the company (this is where we are going together).

Handbooks set the purpose and values of the company (this is why we do what we do).

Employees have the freedom to work within the boundaries of those expectations. Many people do not like the feeling of stepping outside boundaries, especially when the boundaries are unknown. It creates the sense that they have failed. Clearly defining those boundaries allow the employee to move freely without fear that they may be doing something wrong.

Handbooks allow for consistency.

We have so many things to do daily within our companies. Trying to remember what I told one employee they could do and translating that to another employee can become troublesome. I reference our employee handbook often. It is where I go when I am asked a question about what an employee can or cannot do. The handbook gives me ground to stand on and also assures the employees that I am not showing favoritism or making it up as I go. The employee knows that these are the guidelines for the company.

Handbooks protect our businesses.

If the employee makes a claim against the company, the handbook shows what you have communicated to the employee. It shows them what you do not tolerate in a work environment and how you handle situations when those standards are violated.

While a handbook won’t prevent you from being sued by an unhappy employee, when a company has a handbook, it shows the court that you have done your due diligence in communicating your expectations to all employees.

Handbooks are not a contract. They are considered a “living document,” meaning you can make changes as many times as you want and when you want.

Handbooks are a great way to showcase the company’s benefits.

You may have vacation time, flex time, holiday time off, health benefits, retirement programs. Showing off your company’s benefits feels good to the employee, and it makes your company attractive to current and potential employees.

Handbooks keep employees safe.

Handbooks tell employees what to do in an emergency. What do I do if there is ice and snow? Where do I go if there is a fire? It also encourages employees to watch out for each other and to be responsible with equipment to keep others safe. Hurt or unwell employees can be costly to a company.

I encourage you to look into adding a handbook to your company if you do not have one. If you have a handbook, make sure to update it yearly. If you need help creating or updating a handbook, White Law Office can help you.

Jaime White

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