Building an Employee Handbook

Helen Lee Schifter, the former Hearst and Conde Nast editor, has dealt with a lot of employees during her business career. And one thing Schifter learned during all that time is that it’s not enough to communicate just a few workplace guidelines, and then just let it go. You actually need to spell out all of your rules and regulations in writing. And that’s where an employee handbook comes from.

And Helen is aware that such an employee handbook must be given to each employee, but to have documented acceptance they have received it, read it, and acknowledged that they understand the company rules.

Avoid Misunderstandings

There are many reasons that an employee handbook is important. Helen Lee Schifter thinks that one of these reasons is to inform employees that there are rules involved in working for your company and that they are, for the most part, at-will employees. That means that employees will be informed of what the rules of the company are, and what the consequences are for violating those rules.

Employees must understand, in clear language, that working for the company is a privilege, not a right, and that merely the fact that an employee does not fit in with the company’s vision is enough for them to be let go.

Avoiding Lawsuits

More importantly, the employee handbook needs to cover And sets the ground rules for employee behavior, that may subject the company to legal lawsuits.

Some of the prime ones, which are frequently encountered by businesses small and large are sexual harassment, religious harassment, threats conveyed to other employees, romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates, drug and alcohol abuse, intentionally refusing work assignments, and more.

It is extremely important that employees know the rules concerning any behavior that might shed a poor light on the company.

Employees should know not only what is prohibited, but how to report any such problems to the company.

Businesses must do this not only to cover their legal due diligence but also to ensure they have a fair and equitable, and employee-friendly workplace.

The old adage, one rotten apple poisons the entire barrel is true. And every employee, no matter what their rung on the corporate ladder, must know what actions are acceptable and what are not.

And companies that try to operate informally, without an employee handbook, run the risk of encountering all of the above-named problems.

Who Should Write the Employee Handbook?

Fortunately, employee handbooks have been around so long that there are dozens of templates for creating them. It is recommended that a business, in particular, the Human resources staff as well as key execs, create their employee handbook using one of these templates.

So it’s not as important who actually writes them, but that the employee handbook covers almost every available contingency. And once it’s created, if you don’t have legal staff on hand, then take it to a private HR resources attorney. And once created, then be consistent about how your business handles the rules.