I am often asked; do we really need an employee handbook? The answer is yes. The answer is yes whether you have 2 employees or 20,000. The answer is yes if you are a brand-new business or you have been established for 15 years. The answer is yes even if you would rather I said no.

Employee handbooks play a very important role in your company. They not only document your policies and procedures, but they communicate your expectations to your employees and can provide a shield to help your company mitigate risk.

Many companies believe they are too small or too new for a handbook. Both of these assumptions can lead to trouble down the road. In fact, small, newly formed companies are the best time to establish your rules, policies and culture. A comprehensive handbook not only documents your policies and procedures, it communicates and clarifies the expectations you have for your employees. As you continue to hire new employees, you will have a well laid out map, with clear guideposts for them to follow as they acclimate to your business. While smaller companies may not fall under the jurisdiction of some State and Federal laws, there are several laws that everyone needs to follow, regardless of their size.

Additionally, handbooks are not just about the law. Think about some everyday situations that could cause issues: there is a weather emergency and you need someone to work, but you never really outlined who that should be; there is a significant illness going around the office and people are asking to work from home, but you have nothing in place that puts any parameters around remote working. Thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ before they become the ‘oh-nos’ is critical.

However, handbooks are only beneficial to you as long as your policies are accurate, up to date, compliant with State, Federal, and local law, and the handbook itself does not unintentionally create any contractual rights. Therefore, having an up to date comprehensive handbook is critical to ensure that you do not inadvertently create confusion and potential liability. As your company changes, your policies will need to change with it. You will want to ensure that all of your policies reflect your culture. Having policies that accurately reflect your vision for your company will help ensure that staff and management follow them every day that they are at work.

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