A comprehensive employee handbook is a crucial document to have in place at the earliest stages of business formation. This manual must describe the broad range of the company’s policies while introducing new employees to the organization. Additionally, the employee manual can be revised regularly to include new information and changing business strategies.
Unfortunately, many business owners fall into common pitfalls while developing these documents. Here are five mistakes that should be avoided while drafting an employee handbook:
- Failing to include provisions for updates: Too often, business owners set the employee handbook and then fail to revise it when necessary. In the initial document, it is wise to include provisions geared toward keeping the handbook current. The business will continue to evolve, and the handbook should reflect this.
- Creating an over-complex document: It is not uncommon for an organization to become overzealous when drafting the employee manual. Business owners might include policies, provisions and language aimed at the future of the company. Unfortunately, this forward-looking document might require employees to promise adherence to a policy that does not yet apply in a business segment that does not yet exist.
- Using vague language: Conversely, some organizations will gloss over important factors by using vague or unclear terminology. It is crucial that the employee manual is clearly written using defined terms.
- Reliance on what is essentially a list of policies: The employee manual should be an introduction to the company, the mission statement, the overall strategies and the organization’s values. The document should be more than a simple checklist of policies that a new hire must read and sign.
- Reliance on acknowledgment of receipt rather than understanding: While checking off employee compliance is a function of the human resources department, it is crucial that those in leadership rules are making certain employees understand the material in the handbook rather than simply signing their acknowledgement and filing the document away.
Having a comprehensive employee handbook in place is a critical step for any size organization. Unfortunately, these documents must tread a fine line between being too vague and too complex. Additionally, it is possible to write restrictive components of various employee documents to be too restrictive. It is important to work with a legal professional to gain insight through the draft and revision process for all business contracts, agreements and employee documents.