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HR Policies to Include in an Employee Handbook

rulesTime and time again, we hear about employees getting into hot water as a result of violating human resources policies, and companies are finding themselves in the middle of the controversy. Here are some recent headlines of employees running afoul of HR policies:

One way for companies to minimize the potential negative effects of employees’ inappropriate behaviour is to make sure that the company’s HR policies and procedures are well-documented.  For a typical small business, a simple employee handbook may be all that you need to ensure your employees are aware of your company’s human resources policies.

An employee handbook is an important tool to increase the communication between the company and your employees. An employee handbook sets the expectations of what the company expects from its employees, as well as what the employees can expect from the company.

The following are some characteristics of a typical employee handbook:

  • Conveys company information in an easy-to-read, narrative style, which reflects the company’s personality and culture.
  • Written in a tone that reinforces the employer brand, capturing the essence of what it means to work for the company.
  • Summarizes human resources policies, procedures, processes and day-to-day operational expectations into several brief paragraphs or policy statements per policy. As the company grows and you gain more experience with employee issues, these policy statements can be expanded or can be used to create a more formal HR policies and procedures manual.
  • Meant to be read in its entirety to provide existing and new employees with an understanding of how the company operates.

What to include in an employee handbook?  There is no prescribed content for an employee handbook.  It is up to each company to determine the information that it wants to convey to employees. If you’re not sure where to start, the following outline will give you a starting point for your employee handbook:

  1. Welcome to the Company
  2. General Company Information
    a) History of the Company
    b) Vision, Mission & Values
    c) What Sets Us Apart
    d) Company Structure
    e) Products & Services
    f) Customers
    g) Community Involvement & Giving Back
  3. Workplace Expectations
    a) Code of Conduct
    b) Conduct Outside of Work
    c) Confidentiality
    d) Conflicts of Interest
    e) Use of Office Equipment & Information Technology
    f) Ownership of Work Product
    g) Social Media Use
  4. Compensation & Benefits Overview
    a) Compensation Policy & Pay Information
    b) Hours of Work & Overtime
    c) Group Benefits Plan Overview
    d) Leaves of Absence
    e) Meals & Breaks
    f) Professional Development & Continuing Education
    g) Professional Memberships & Associations
    h) Rewards & Recognition
    i) Sick Leave
    j) Statutory Holidays
    k) Vacation
  5. Employment Policies
    a) Hiring Practices
    b) Performance Management
    c) Probationary Period
    d) Telecommuting & Working Offsite
    e) Termination of Employment
    f) Training & Development
    g) Working Additional Jobs – Moonlighting
  6. Workplace Health & Safety
    a) Accidents & Injuries
    b) Fire Plan, Safety and Emergency Response
    c) Health & Safety Committee
    d) Respect in the Workplace
    e) Security Guidelines
    f) Smoking
    g) Substance Abuse
  7. Office Facts & General Information
    This section can include anything you want an employee to know from a company phone list to location of bike racks to dress code and how to order office supplies.  It’s a catch all of general information that would be helpful information to integrate an employee into the company.
  8. Employee Acknowledgement of Handbook & Sign-Off

Should you need assistance to to design your HR policies and to develop your company’s employee handbook, please contact Clear HR Consulting.

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