businessBusiness Coachingbusiness growthconsultantHuman ResourcesProcess Improvementsmall-businessDo’s and Don’ts: Employee Handbook Rules You Should Know

January 27, 2022by Mikerash0

You may be under the wrong impression.

You should know that employee handbooks are not meant to be static, one-time documents, but does this mean you should include policies surrounding Covid-19?

Not exactly. 

A thorough, well written employee handbook provides a valuable resource for your employees, whether they are recently hired or have been with you for years. 

On the other hand, a poorly written handbook has the potential to confuse both your short- and long-term employees around company policies, culture, and expectations. More so, if your handbook fails to lay out critical processes and procedures, you easily may find yourself in legal trouble.

While we outline the 9 Must-Have Policies for 2022 for Employee Handbooks here, we feel that it’s just as important that you know what not to do. If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to worry about making corrections as often. 

There are several common mistakes employers make when setting up an employee handbook. Keep reading below to find out…

Don’t: Use a Generic Approach 

Your employee handbook should act as a direct reflection of your business operations and its overall culture. Because every business is unique in its own way, you should have your own set of policies and expectations. 

While we find that many business owners are drawn to taking advantage of online templates, it’s critical that you merely use them as a starting point-rather than adopting one entirely. 

Do: Focus on your Values 

Your handbook should include your company policies while reflecting your company values. In order to successfully convey a strong sense of culture to your employees, they need a clear understanding of what your business is all about. 

Include a mission statement, a history of your organization, and your workplace philosophy to inform your employees on the vision that drives workplace decisions. 

Don’t: Forget a Disclaimer

Ensure that your employees understand that the handbook in no way creates an employment contract. The best way to get this point across is to include a disclaimer. Additionally, the disclaimer should specify that while the handbook covers a wide range of workplace situations, it is not an exhaustive list.

Do: Make it Easy to Read

The point of an employee handbook is to clearly communicate company policies to your team. If the language is complex and hard to understand, you risk confusing your employees even more.

Keep your policies concise and avoid attempting to detail every possible scenario or laying out every management policy in extreme detail. An effective employee handbook provides necessary information without turning into an extensive “terms and conditions” manual that everyone skips over. 

Don’t: Overly restrict yourself

While your employee handbook should display the types of conduct that can lead to discipline, it’s a mistake to create a restrictive process that applies to all cases. 

If you set your disciplinary policy up this way, you lose the flexibility to handle unique situations. 

Your policy should include a disclaimer that you have the right to skip a disciplinary step as necessary. It is possible that an employee’s unacceptable behavior may leave you no choice but to terminate them for cause.

Do: Include Policies 

Employment laws change often, and when this happens, you need to draft new policies based on the new rules to show that you are up to date with your compliance requirements. New policies are also created as new workplace situations arise that need to be addressed.

It can be easy to draft these new policies and forget to include them in your handbook, especially if it’s already completed. However, it’s critical to include all policies. A good rule of thumb is that if you plan on enforcing the policy every day, put it in the handbook.

That way your employees don’t have to search through other methods of policy distribution to find the information they need on new rules, and all your proof of compliance is in one place. ‘

FAQ: Should we include Covid-19 policies in our handbook?

Covid-19 will continue to affect our workplaces for some time; however, we generally recommend not adding Covid-19 policies directly to your handbook. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to evolve, and federal and state laws related to the pandemic will continue to change as well. 

Instead of making changes directly to your employee handbook, we recommend incorporating COVID-related policy updates into a separate handbook addendum, or just a packet of policies and documents that each employee will receive. Keeping these policies separate also suggests that they are temporary and will be removed when the time deems appropriate.

Policies in a Covid-19 addendum or policy kit may include a work from home policy, face-covering policy, workplace safety rules, vaccination policy, workplace sanitation procedures, and internal policy changes related to the pandemic.

If you want to have a general policy related to illness that details when to stay home, whom to notify of an illness, etc., you could include that directly in the employee handbook. Just make sure that the policies there align with whatever you have included in your Covid-19 addendum, if you have one.

Don’t: Neglect the Review 

If you’re writing your own handbook, you may eventually identify inconsistencies or discrepancies. Errors like this can lead to employees feeling that you don’t enforce policies the same way for all team members.

Consider utilizing an outside expert to review your language and provide guidance on how your policies should be written. An expert can also give your insight on further policies to include based on industry trends. 

Final Thoughts

We hope this list-in addition to our other posts (see below)- provides clarity in crafting and maintaining your employee handbook. What may seem important at the moment may adjust in time, so we strongly recommend that your handbook is built with flexibility in mind. 

While downloadable templates and generic solutions may seem like the budget friendly choice right now, their obscurity will only limit you and your abilities while setting you up for complications down the line. 

If you have any specific questions or need some extra guidance, our team is here to help you with your employee handbook. Give us a call, send us an email, or message us on our social media pages (@mcdaccginc) to receive a customized response – as opposed to a generic comment.

Now is the best time to make sure that your employee handbook is spot on and able to sustain your growth. 

Reach out to one of our HR experts today!


#AskHR Experts:

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Employee Handbooks: 9 Must-Have Policies for 2022

What are the Consequences of a Poorly Written Employee Handbook?

What You Should Know: Religious Exemptions & Covid-19 Vaccination Mandates


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