Dry. Boring. Out of date. Those are often words used to describe company handbooks. When presented like that, no one even wants to touch a policy book, much less read one—understandably so.
While an out-of-date employee handbook doesn’t do much good, a fresh, information-packed guide can make a company’s employee handbook a go-to resource. To prevent the books from gathering dust in the bottom of a filing cabinet, business owners need to ensure that they give the guides formal review every six months.
Handbooks are mostly thought of as a formality for legal purposes, but they can actually be very helpful. Why else would they exist in the first place? Here are a several reasons why handbooks are important. Don’t skip No. 2 – it’s a real gem.
1. Employee handbooks are a first impression.
And you always want to make a good first impression, right? A handbook is the first thing that new hires will read after joining the company. Believe it or not, your newwill at least glance at your handbook. Whether they read it depends on how useful it is and how much you stress its importance.
New hires will turn to company handbooks with questions about vacation days, the company mission, how complaints are handled, etc. This policy handbook needs to spell out your business’ processes and clearly convey ethics policies.
2. Employee handbooks increase efficiency.
If done right, a policy guide can save you and your employees time. Your employees can reference their book in less than a minute instead of waiting for you to get off the phone to annoyingly ask you, “Do we get MLK Day off?”
An extension of the employee handbook is a role-specific handbook. Regina Paul recommends having all employees write a book that lays out responsibilities, processes, and other details vital to performing their duties well.
Role-specific handbooks better your company. Creating a handbook helps current employees define their roles in the company, providing confirmation that what they do matters. They also allow you to identify any overlap of responsibilities and processes that need to be improved.
In the event that an employee needs to step in for another, these handbooks make it much easier for others to complete work. If someone is sick but has details in a guide, you can allow them to rest instead of bothering them with phone calls every hour about this and that. And should someone leave your company, you have documentation that will allow other employees to fill in, and it will also be helpful to the person’s replacement.
Reviewing these role-specific guides every six months are mandatory to make sure that they don’t become outdated. Some employees might need to update their books every three months.
3. Employee handbooks are vital to potential buyers.
If you ever plan on retiring or exiting your business, you will have to document everything that makes your company tick before you can find a buyer.
How disorganized would you look to a potential buyer if you don’t have a handbook or any written documentation of your business’ processes? Your company would appear chaotic, and no one wants to invest in a haphazardly run organization.
Not having work flow and processes documented could actually cause many buyers to walk away from your deal, which is the last thing you want.
Helpful resource: The U.S. Small Business Administration has several recommendations for creating employee handbooks. The SBA also has a template if you’re just getting started: Employee Handbook Template.
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