Weekly HR News - Employee Handbooks

Weekly HR – Employee Handbooks

Ideas for Recreating Your Employee Handbook

Your employee handbook contains exciting legal information!  Well, actually it contains important information, even if it is not exciting.  Information that includes the fact that you're an at-will employer; that employees must comply with a code of conduct; how much vacation leave an employee receives; as well as various other important pieces of information.  And as any employer knows, it is a key document to how the city runs (if it is up-to-date, but that’s for another article).  

Do your employees even see it as an important document?  Do they even read it? In most instances, the answer to that is a resounding no.  Why would they?  It isn’t exactly movie screen material.  How many of you have read your employee handbook cover-to-cover?  Many of us sign the acknowledgement of receipt but never actually read it, until an issue arises. 

In addition, the employee handbook can set the first impression of your city to new employees.  What does your handbook say about your city?  Unfortunately, handing new or current employees a spiral bound handbook, doesn’t say much and it certainly is not serving its required purpose.  So how do you make sure that your employees are getting the information that they need from this very important document?  Here are some ideas:

  1. Paper or plastic? While many employees like the spiral bound employee handbook, consider placing your handbook on the city’s intranet.  It’s fine to have a few paper copies for those employees who demand them, but having them on the intranet makes them accessible from anywhere and allows employees (and supervisors) to search for specific terms as issues arise.  Not to mention, that handbooks MUST be kept up to date (if it has been more than a few years since the last update, we should talk) with state and federal employment law changes.  It is easier, quicker and cheaper to make changes and post them to the intranet then to print out new pages, or sometimes even an entire new handbook. 
  2. Make it interesting. Unfortunately, some of the legalese is required, but you can make it an interesting read by giving examples or scenarios.
  3. New Employee Overload. When a new employee shows up to work they already have more than enough paperwork to fill out, so instead of making the employee handbook another piece of dreaded paperwork, make sure your new employees have access to the information before they show up at work.  And once they start work, set aside time to highlight the important aspects of the handbook and let them ask questions that they may have about the content.
  4. Provide training. Whatever the medium that you use, provide training opportunities that allow your employees to ask questions.  Also, send out periodic email reminders with relevant policy information.  For example, send out your inclement weather policy before inclement weather hits, so they know the attendance expectations; or the dress code policy before the warm weather returns, so employees know whether or not flip flops are off limits. 

It’s definitely easier to write a handbook that no one ever reads but there are numerous benefits to employees when they know and understand the handbook information. Employees feel more engaged and part of the process when they know and understand the rules that are applied across the board.  Nothing can upset the workplace more than to have employees that don’t know what is expected of them or to have rules in place that are not followed. 

For questions on this or other personnel matters, or set up a time to review your current handbook, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, Personnel Services Specialist, with the KLC Legal Department.