An employee handbook is like a good living/working document for your employees. It includes your company’s operating policies (the legal aspect) and also your company’s history, values and ethics (the cultural aspect). Your company’s employee handbook is a formal channel through which you can define and set course for the culture you envision for your organisation. Some organisations prefer to give these handbooks to new hires while joining the company and take a written acknowledgement of the same. Some companies upload it on their intranet – making it is easily accessible to the employees.
Workplace policies need to be in place in order to establish boundaries and guidelines. This holds good for the IT and communication section too. Communication policies of an organisation set expectations and manage the flow of communications within and outside the organisation. They facilitate meaningful and necessary communication for employee productivity and morale without restricting communication. Having a good communication policy in place reduces conflicts and misunderstandings.
What is an Employee Handbook really?
What makes an Employee Handbook Unique?
If you believe your company is unique and has its own unique culture, then why shouldn’t your employee handbook be unique? While there are best practices in terms of what points should be covered in an ideal employee handbook (and we will come to it later in this article), how you word them and what additional things you convey will make it a true representative of your company. A quick search on the internet will reveal how Valve, Trello, Netflix, Hubspot and several other companies have created handbooks that have raised the bar for what a good handbook looks like.
What Should an Employee Handbook Consist of?
Once you have set the tone of your employee handbook and introduced your company’s guiding principles and history, you need to list down some important company policies. Keep in mind the demographics of your employees while wording your document. If your organization’s workforce majorly comprises of millennial, you need to put in some serious effort to make it fun else it may not be read beyond the first few sections.
Here are the top policies to include in your handbook. You can include all or pick the ones which are more relevant for your organisation.
Employment and Hiring Policy
Your employment and hiring policy lists down the eligibility criteria for employment, documents needed at the time of hiring, the appointment process, induction, and probationary period. It may also include employment categories if applicable- like full-time employment, part-time, contractual, trainee, etc. You can also give details of referral policy and exit policy. It is a good idea to include the at-will employment clause as well – which allows either party to end the professional relationship for any reason. Similarly, state clearly that the handbook is not a contract and its contents can be changed at any time.
Learn in detail about Employment and Hiring Policy here.
Code of Conduct
Even the most liberal workspaces need to have some boundaries. Depending on your industry and work culture you may list down important codes of conduct expected of the employees. These could include dress code, relationship with co-workers, ethical conduct, substance abuse, and alcohol consumption, respect for the company’s assets, conflict of interest, etc.
Read more about Code of Conduct here.
Give your new employees an idea about their day to day working conditions and policies. This will include your company’s working hours, break hours, overtime policy, shared workspace policy, work from home policy, time clocking process, meeting visitors’ policy, and even safety at work policy. If you are looking to provide a healthy and safe workplace for all your employees, say it clearly in the anti-harassment and violence policy. This policy details your stand and the measures you would take against sexual harassment and bullying in general.
Learn all about Workplace Policies here.
Holidays and Leave
Leaves can be granted for various reasons- casual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, etc. List all the various leaves that your employees can avail. Also explain the process for applying leaves and LTA policy, if any.
Find the details about Leave Policy here.
Compensation & benefits
This is will probably be the most referred section of your employee handbook where you state how the salary disbursement is carried out in your company. You may or may not include the salary breakup. Some companies may choose to have the details in the employment contract. The benefits section can list insurance details, welfare schemes – like a gym membership, medical care, etc.
Click here to learn in detail about Compensation and Benefits.
Most businesses operate at a global stage today that require their employees to travel for work every now and then. To facilitate smooth work-related travel, have a travel policy that details the approval process for domestic and international trips, booking of tickets, reimbursement process, and any other policy or process that is specific to your organisation.
Find a template of Travel Policy here.
IT and Communications Policies
Organisations today provide several technological tools and gadgets to their employees – laptops, smartphones, additional screens, docking stations, IP phones, etc. Explain your company’s usage policy for these IT assets. Similarly, explain the usage policy for the communication tools that are used in your company like email, social media, the internet in general, and other collaboration tools.
Read more about IT and Communications policies.
Performance Review and Training Policies
Employees need to know how often and the manner in which their work will be assessed. Explain your performance review process clearly. If your company has a guideline on how promotions take place, mention that too. If applicable, also include what happens if the performance is not as expected. Some companies have a performance improvement plan for underperforming employees while some chart out a learning and development course plan for all employees.
Learn all about Performance Review and Training Policies here.
Employment Ethics Policies
In this section, you may state that the company does not discriminate at the time of hiring and during course employment and treats everyone equally irrespective of age, gender, class, or race. Some companies also include irrespective of disability, religion, sexual orientation, and other aspects that they would like to call out.
Non- disclosure policies
List down what you consider as confidential data not meant to be shared. Besides the obvious ones like customer data, employee a, contact information, and business plan, some companies restrict the amount of information you can share when acting as a reference for an ex-employee.
Find templates of Confidentiality and Data protection policies here.
Exit processes are as important as induction processes. Spell out the leaving formalities that an employee should expect if the relationship with the company comes to an end.
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