Making employee handbooks a priority

When is the last time you reviewed or updated your employee handbook? Do you even have an employee handbook? Have you ever? Although thinking about an employee handbook may get lost on what surely is a long list of employment-related (and other) concerns, you should consider moving it up on your list.

In the ever-evolving and increasingly complex legal environment, sometimes the most basic measures and simplest solutions are overlooked or forgotten. Employers often use a lot of time, effort and resources to train employees and supervisors, agonize over difficult leave and retaliation issues, and even audit pay practices and workflow systems—all of which are important to be sure—but they forget to step back and consider whether they have the right policies in place on which to build an effective human resources strategy. And even more important, they forget to review their policies periodically to ensure what they have in place either is required by law or able to handle employee issues effectively to combat potential legal liabilities.

Do you need a handbook?

Many employers make the mistake of believing they do not need an employee handbook or set of personnel policies because their businesses are small or "family-oriented." They worry that adopting a formal handbook or set of policies unduly will curtail their ability to deal personally with employees or their flexibility in operating their businesses. Others simply don't think their operations are of a size or complexity that requires a written set of policies.