How Often Should You Update Your Company’s Employee Handbook?
Running a business to a point where it operates like a smooth machine takes a considerable amount of work and resources. An employee handbook is one of the tools that will get you closer to that goal. Every enterprise must have a rulebook that sets out essential guidelines on various subjects for both employers and employees. Your employee handbook lays out the different policies that workers must adhere to when fulfilling their responsibilities. Staff members should be aware of the company’s goals and expectations then use that information to help the entity grow. Most importantly, an employee handbook can save your enterprise from a load of legal trouble on various occasions.
Issues such as termination, sexual harassment, and unsafe working conditions are very popular, and one way you can shield your company is to have proper regulations established in the employee handbook. However, the rules you drafted when starting out may not apply two or three years down the line, meaning your rulebook needs an update. Some managers don’t see the need to update their handbooks, and that can be dangerous. You should always be ready to implement changes when needed. But, how can you tell when its time? What is the recommended period to update your employee handbook?
When to get Updates
Your employee handbook should get an update at least once every year with reviews every six months. Enterprises evolve, some faster than others, and that means your expectations shift as well. Updating the rulebook ensures that your workers operate with the latest information, which increases their chances of attaining company objectives. Never get tempted to use the generic handbooks that are so readily available online. Each organization has a unique mode of functioning, goals, and capabilities. You may adapt a document that doesn’t align with any of these aspects, which only serves to undermine everyone’s skills.
Every employee should get an updated handbook when they start working at the company and make sure they acknowledge receipt. Do this every time there are changes to the handbook regardless of how small they are. The point is to guarantee that your enterprise is legally protected in case of issues. These are some instances when employee handbook updates may be instituted.
Evolving Company Policies
Business policies change for different reasons; maybe you are going through a growth phase or have started working with new partners. Whatever the case, these new policies should be included in the handbook as soon as they happen. If your company is looking to have new laws on attendance or employee benefits, it is not enough just to announce them; they should be written down in the rulebook. Your enterprise may also institute changes regarding certain procedures. For example, if it’s a manufacturing business, there may be a need to streamline some of the processes to increase production. All these alterations should be part of your updated employee rulebook.
Besides companies, the society also changes significantly. In the span of one year, you may find that people are doing things a lot more differently, thus forcing your company to adapt. The society you found when starting the enterprise is not the same one you will be dealing with five years down the line. For instance, depending on the region, same-sex marriage may now be legal, meaning your employee benefits and compensation packages have to factor that in.
Another example is fashion. Over time, trends emerge and others fade away, meaning your staff has to evolve as well. The dress code you have in your handbook may not fall in line with the current fashion, so you have to reevaluate what is acceptable in the workplace. The definition of “business casual” may change drastically in a matter of months, and you have to make sure that workers don’t overdo it.
Federal and State Legislation
State and federal employment laws can change also, requiring organizations to revise their policies. For instance, the state you are based in may decide to institute new regulations regarding paid sick leave. Areas such as non-discrimination/equal opportunity employment, accommodation of disabilities, and family medical leave can be very contentious when it comes to implementing local and federal laws. Reviewing your employee handbook every few months can tell you if the enterprise is in compliance, and how fast you have to make the shift if it’s not. The legalese in these laws may be hard for some workers to grasp but ensure that the handbook phrases them in a simple manner.
When reviewing your employee handbook, you may find sections that are no longer relevant to the operations of the entity. Such information may only confuse your workers more, especially if there are conflicting clauses. As the enterprise evolves, go through the handbook and take out content that has ceased to be useful.
Social Media and Technology Changes
Companies in today’s world have to incorporate all kinds of technologies when doing business, hence the need to have proper policies on their usage. Your employees should know how to handle themselves on social media, especially when representing the company. These networks evolve by the day and grow exponentially in numbers. Imagine if your current handbook only covers Facebook and Twitter in its social media policy when employees have access to so much more now. Worse yet, your company may not have regulations on smartphone use by employees because the last handbook was drafted ten years ago. Every time there is a need to have new social media and technology rules is an opportunity to update your manual.
An employee handbook is not just a regulation outline; it is a part of your organizational culture. Your staff uses this document to conduct itself, and that determines the kind of corporate culture develops in the company. As much as the handbook should be well detailed, it should not be difficult for workers to comprehend. Be cautious when creating these policies so that you don’t end up with laws that are too complex to implement or too flexible that they leave loopholes for legal liability. Strive to provide your employees with current information regarding the company for efficient decision-making.