Aug 29

Policy Spotlight: Employee Handbook

We get it, HR policies are quite dry subject matter. We don’t often hear our clients excited to add another policy to their collection or telling us how a policy has helped them reach their profit target this year. But boring things are still important!

Our Policy Spotlight series will take you through some of the key HR policies, shining a light on what they’re for, and why you might need them. Having the right policies in place can:

  1. Make sure you’re complying with employment law.
  2. Provide you with some protection from employee claims.
  3. Help your employees understand what is and isn’t accepted in your business in terms of conduct (their own or others), performance and the company’s stance in key areas.
  4. Enable your employees to find information themselves, saving their managers time.

Here at HR Overload, we help our clients understand what policies they do and don’t need in their business, write bespoke policies or amend what’s in place and give you the tools to implement these with your teams. If you think yours need some attention get in touch,  020 8588 9494 or send us a note via our website.

The Employee Handbook

Organisations are continuously evolving and adapting to new challenges, so clear communication and well-defined expectations are key to fostering a productive and harmonious work environment. That’s where an Employee Handbook becomes a really useful tool to the benefit of both employers, managers, and employees.

In some organisations the Employee Handbook will be an extensive document which encompasses all of the Company’s people policies (such as disciplinary, grievance and equal opportunities) alongside other general information, like how to book holidays. Having such a large document can be daunting for employees and make it more difficult for them to get to the information they need.

Another way of using an Employee Handbook is to write it as a centralised document which summarises all the useful bits of information that employees might need whilst working for your organisation and signpost full versions of policies where needed (such as health and safety, disciplinary policy and maternity policy). Employees can then reference sections as they need and only read the full policy if it is relevant to their particular situation. This keeps the Employee Handbook briefer and more user friendly. For example, the handbook could state the procedure for booking holiday and rules around this, like notice requirements, whilst signposting employees to their individual contracts for holiday allowance, the HRIS for actual bookings and the disciplinary policy for any instances of abuse of the holiday system or unauthorised absence.

In this format, an Employee Handbook might contain brief sections on:

  • Company history, mission, and values
  • Working hours and breaks
  • Attendance and timekeeping
  • Probationary period
  • Standards of behaviour
  • Health and Safety
  • Family Friendly policies
  • How to book holiday
  • How to report illness or other absences from work
  • Benefits
  • Payroll procedures and key contacts
  • Performance expectations and appraisal process
  • Training and Development opportunities
  • Leaving procedures such as returning Company property
  • Uniform or dress code/standards

Each Company will want and need to include slightly different things due to how they operate.

How can an Employee Handbook help your business?

Consistency: An Employee Handbook provides guidelines that define how your Company operates. By clearly outlining the rules and expectations it ensures that every employee receives the same information and is held to the same standards. This consistency helps prevent misunderstandings, reduces conflicts, and promotes fairness.

Compliance: In line with employment legislation, employers have many obligations and policy requirements. An Employee Handbook acts as a roadmap, guiding employees to this information, and their employment rights, helping the organisation to stay compliant with legislation such as the equality act, health and safety regulations, and working time rules. By incorporating key elements of  these guidelines into the handbook or using the handbook to signpost employees, employers can reduce risk and protect both their employees and business interests.

Culture: An Employee Handbook serves as a valuable tool to convey the Company’s mission, values, and culture. It sets the tone for expectations, behaviour, and performance standards. By outlining the Company’s vision, goals, and core values, the handbook helps cultivate a shared sense of purpose and identity among employees, fostering a positive and unified work culture.

How can an Employee Handbook help your employees and managers?

Clarity and Expectations: An Employee Handbook provides employees with a clear understanding of their rights, responsibilities, and obligations in relation to work and the business they work for. It ensures that employees are aware of Company goals, mission and values and, particularly for new hires, this clarity promotes confidence, minimises uncertainty, and helps employees align their actions with Company goals and reduce burden on Managers.

Transparency and Fairness: By outlining rules and procedures and/or signposting employees and managers to policies, an Employee Handbook promotes transparency and fairness. Employees can refer to the handbook to understand the process for various things and this transparency helps employees feel heard, valued, and protected, fostering a positive and supportive work environment. Managers can refer their employees to the handbook for information, and can use this themselves to manage people processes consistently and according to Company rules.

Employee Handbooks are an invaluable resource that can benefit your organisation in various ways. Whilst there aren’t serious legal risks of not having an Employee Handbook in place, (like there are with not having certain policies), putting one in place can improve communication, clarity and fairness, building a strong foundation for employees and your business to succeed.

The HROverload team can create you a bespoke Employee Handbook to support your organisation – get in touch to see what we can do for you

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