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4 Important Elements to Include in Your Employee Handbook

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This post was updated in March 2020

4 elements to include in your company's employee handbook:

  1. Company Values and Mission Statement

  2. General Employment Information

  3. Local and State Laws

  4. Conduct Policy

Any successful business has an employee handbook, as it is an essential asset to offer your employees. Outlining policies and procedures in a written form provides employees with answers to common questions and lets them know what is expected of them while at work. As an HR professional, I am sure you get bombarded with random questions from your employees on a daily basis. This is why having an employee handbook and making it mandatory for all employees to read and sign during their onboarding process is imperative. It is important for an organization to have an employee handbook in order to prevent and avoid problems from occurring, as well as being provided with legal protection in case something does happen. So what does an employee handbook look like? Read on to find out what 4 elements you should include in yours.

Company Values and Mission Statement

This is usually part of the introduction. Because employee handbooks are typically handed to employees during the onboarding process, it is a great way to communicate to new employees your company culture and help them know how they will fit in.  Every employee should know what the company's goals, values, and mission statement is so they can develop a sense of purpose and duty.

General Employment Information

This section is one of the longest and most important sections because it breaks everything down. In this section you should clearly expand on and define the following:

  • Hiring policies

  • Payment Information

  • Hours of work

  • Overtime rules

  • Meal and rest breaks

  • Attendance policy

  • Leave policy

  • Dress code policy

  • Benefits

  • Any other important things your HR department finds necessary to communicate to employees

Think about all the questions you have had in your previous jobs or the questions you have gotten from employees in your current position. Think about what they would want to know and consider including those in this section.

Local and State Laws

There are many employment laws every company should adhere to. If you are not sure which ones they are, I suggest taking a peek at the United States Department of Labor website. There you will find national employment laws, as well as your state’s laws. Keep in mind that every state has its own laws, so be sure to review those and include them in your handbook. One of the most important laws that you need to include in your company’s employee handbook is anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws.

After all, one of your main goals as an HR department should be to provide a safe work environment for your employees.  Your handbook should clearly communicate that the company has zero tolerance for harassment or discrimination of any kind. It is important to define the various types of harassment and how employees may identify harassment. You should also communicate what needs to be done if harassment or discrimination has been identified in the workplace, such as where to report it, for instance.



Conduct Policy

This section should explain the types of conduct that can get an employee in trouble and what the repercussions for each are. These actions can be theft, violence, harassment, and so on. A disciplinary process must be in place to deter inappropriate and unproductive employee behavior. Be sure to make the policy flexible. Reserve the right in the handbook to judge events on a case-by-case basis to determine inappropriate behavior. Be selective with the language so employees are not in constant fear of being disproportionately punished. Also, do not limit misconduct to only what is included in the handbook. Instead, include a disclaimer or be sure to add a statement such as “or any other behavior has proven to be detrimental and harmful to the company” to the policy.

These are only a few elements that I wanted to expand on. There are many more you can include in your company’s employee handbook; it all depends on your company culture and how much you want to communicate with your employees. Your employee handbook should be a living document, meaning it should not be a one-time project but rather something you revise and update constantly. Keep in mind that employment laws change regularly, so you have to stay up to date on those as well. Make it a point to revise the handbook at least once a year and always look for ways to improve it. Remember, your employee handbook is a resource for everyone in the company. It should be available and accessible at all times. So where should you keep it stored? The best option is to upload it to your HR software. This way, it will be accessible from anywhere with a connection to the internet. You can always have a printed copy somewhere in the office, but it is more effective to have it in the cloud. Don’t have an HR software that allows you to upload your employee handbook? Request a demo today to see how Dominion HR software can be beneficial to your company.




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