When’s the last time you actually read your own employee handbook? Do you even know where to get one? If it’s been a while, it might be time for a little update. Whether you call is a manual, handbook, or policies and procedures, it is more commonly known as a necessary evil.

Are employee handbooks necessary?

Technically, no. Employee handbooks are not required by law. Consequently, most employers dread creating, editing, and distributing them. However, a simple handbook can be a life saver in protecting your business, giving employees clarity, and can keep you from having to explain the same things over and over and over and over.

What should be included?

We’ve created a checklist of what to include in any employee handbook to make sure it is both effective and useful.

  1. The Legal Stuff

There are certain legal policies that should always be in the handbook.

These include:

  •     at-will employment clause
  •     equal employment opportunity statement
  •     conflict of interest statement
  •     confidentiality agreement

Rather than copy and paste these off the internet, take the time to understand them so you can write them in clear language rather than legal jargon.

  1. General Company Info

This is a great place to share your story. Who are you? Why? Share your vision, your foundation, and what makes you wake up every day to run this company? This is helpful to bring new employees into the company family. IT’s also a good place to share other less-inspiration information like working hours, lunch/break hours, work-from-home policy, office location, company structure, contact information, etc.

  1. Standard of conduct

Even the most free-flowing, modern, open, or casual organization has certain boundaries or standards of their employees. If there’s anything you’d like your employees to do (or not do) while they are at work, this is where you spell it out. Generally, this includes things like a dress code, drug and alcohol policy, discrimination policy, discipline procedures.

  1. Communication Policies

In today’s world, professional email etiquette is getting lost in the world of emojis and GIF’s. As a result, your employee handbook should include a section on what communication is appropriate, what is not, and how your employee’s social media should be handled in regards to their time at work or company information.

  1. Compensation & Performance Reviews

This is what your employees really want to know about. Be sure you cover all the details regarding how, when, and what your employees get paid. This includes:

  •     Payroll schedule
  •     Paycheck deductions
  •     Job classification details
  •     Salary and bonuses
  •     Performance reviews
  •     Promotions and transfers
  •     Travel and expense policy
  1. Benefits

This is perhaps the second most important section to your employees. This is where you get to show off all of the things you do for them. Make this section all about taking care of your employees and give easy-to-understand details about insurance, benefits, PTO, retirement, etc.

  1. Leaving the company

This is not a very common section in the employee manual, but it’s an important one. At some point, someone will quit (or be let go). This allows you to explain what happens and be prepared before it happens. Include information on when they’ll receive their final paycheck, how exit interviews work, and any information on COBRA benefits.

Your employee handbook shouldn’t be an afterthought, or a dusty binder of fine print that no one actually reads. It should capture the culture, values and personality of your company while providing valuable references for both you and your employees.

When’s the last time you actually read your employee handbook? Do you even know where to get it? If it’s been a while, it might be time for a little update.