Do I Need an Employee Handbook?

Employee handbooks serve as a road map and guide for your employees – no matter what size your organization is. In keeping with current best practices, we recommend that companies of every size maintain a handbook that clearly conveys their policies and protects you from litigation.

Rick Montgomery, JD, senior legal editor for ThinkHR Corporation, highlights three major benefits to having a handbook.

Three Reasons to Create an Employee Handbook:

  1. Increased Efficiency
    Because the handbook becomes a one-stop shop for basic information about how the company works, it holds the answers to many of your most frequently asked questions. A good handbook often ends up saving managers and HR teams from spending time answering simple questions about day-to-day operations.
  2. Defined Expectations
    This is your chance to clearly define your organization’s standards and consequences for failing to meet them. (i.e., codes of conduct, absentee policies, anti-bullying policies, etc.) Including policies on issues like sexual harassment, absenteeism and tardiness increases fairness, and provides supervisors and managers clear guidance on how to identify and address such problems consistently.
  3. Reduced Exposure to Lawsuits
    Montgomery explains how allegations of discrimination may arise. “For example, if two employees commit the same violation of a company policy, and one employee gets a warning, while the other gets terminated; the employer is likely to face an allegation of disparate treatment discrimination. An employee handbook can reduce these types of lawsuits by helping ensure that disciplinary, as well other company policies, are applied consistently to all employees.”

A Few Topics You May Want to Include in an Employee Handbook:

  • Company History
  • Hours of Work
  • Paid Time-Off Policy
  • Leaves of Absence
  • Employee Behavior
  • Pay and Promotions
  • Benefits
  • Policies and Procedures
    • Note that certain policies may need to be in the handbook by law.

While your handbook should answer routine questions and may include useful information about the above topics, it’s also a great opportunity to convey your company’s unique history, vision and culture. Ultimately, this is a tool that should be helping you reach your HR goals and business objectives.

Wherever you are in your employee handbook process – whether you’re just considering creating one or are ready for a refresh – our employee benefits team is here to help. To simplify the process for our Hotchkiss Insurance benefits clients, we offer an online employee handbook builder. This powerful tool helps you create a pre-populated, fully editable handbook that assures communication of your most important values and compliance in all 50 states.

We know the time and effort you invest in building a thoughtful employee handbook will be well worth it in the end. If you’d like to speak with the Hotchkiss Employee Benefits team, call or email Employee Benefits Practice Leader Chris Hamilton at chamilton@hiallc.com or 972-512-7709.