As your company grows and hires new employees into various roles, you'll begin to see the possibility of inconsistency in your policies. Perhaps when you only have one or two employees, it is possible to manage many rules on a case-by-case basis. However, as you expand and grow, you are likely to encounter situations where you want to be able to enforce rules for your entire staff equitably.
Even if you begin with a bare-bones PDF that is only a few pages long, creating an employee handbook has a variety of benefits. You'll develop a reputation for consistency and fairness that may be hard to craft and enforce without documentation to refer to. Here are some of the reasons to draft up an employee handbook.
Reduced Pushback on Unpopular Rules
Most workplaces have at least one or two unpopular policies, be it the policy for finding a replacement if you have to miss a shift or consequences of infractions.
However, if your employees know that the rules that will be enforced will always be the ones from this document, they can feel more secure. You also gain the benefit of being able to refer to the text when enforcing a consequence. While no one likes being disciplined at work, if the infraction is delineated in the handbook, it's hard to argue that the employee didn't know what would happen.
Consistent Drug Testing Rules
- Morale in any size company is likely to plummet if specific individuals get subjected to more drug screenings than others without any apparent reason why.
- Employees want to feel like they are being treated with the same level of respect as everyone else, regardless of demographics.
- Having a policy for how often drug tests will be administered, and making sure that they are consistently applied rather than applied to only those you think might be consuming drugs will improve morale.
These rules, like many others, will automatically gain legitimacy and weight when they are codified in your company's employee handbook. Employing any rules by giving the handbook to all new hires as soon as they begin working for you also shields you from complaints.
A Way to Officially Respond During Indecision
Often, managers and employers must resolve issues as they arise—rather than thinking of every possible contingency. You'd be surprised how contentious the resolution of a conflict or a concern may be if you issue a consequence after the interaction is over.
- One way to get everyone back on board as a team is to say that you want the entire team to be treated fairly and have added a policy to the handbook to make sure the situation doesn't arise again.
- Maybe this has to do with consequences for taking too many breaks or problems with having visitors at work.
- Your employees will feel better treated if the resolution of a single situation results in everyone being held to the new standard. Otherwise, the first employee who breaks an unspoken rule may feel singled out and alienated.
Clear Background Screening Rules
While you don't have to repeat background checks constantly, letting your employees know that they aren't going to be screened only once upon hiring is wise.
- If you intend to rescreen people periodically, let them know what triggers these checks—be they promotions, new responsibilities, or just an every-5-years blanket policy.
- Make sure employees know that these checks are taken seriously, and that integrity and avoiding criminal behavior are still relevant even after they've established a track record at work.
- Much like the above, making these occasionally-unpopular policies clear and transparent means that employees know exactly what they are getting into and cannot claim ignorance of the situation.
That being said, it may be worthwhile to find a way to incentivize reading the handbook.
- Consider how you could get better readership by having each new employee discuss concerns from the handbook with his or her manager.
- You also might want to create incentives in larger group meetings, such as a few quick trivia questions from the handbook.
- Inform employees that, while they don't need to memorize it, they should know all the rules in the handbook because they will be held accountable.
A Review Can Help You Avoid Lawsuits
- Once you have a basic draft of your employee handbook, it's crucial to run your documentation past a lawyer to determine if any language is discriminatory or outright illegal.
- Your legal counsel can also point out if there are any gaps where you should have policies.
- This opportunity doesn't exist if all your rules are unwritten and case-by-case.
It's much easier to discriminate in the first place if you don't have codified rules—but it can also become a problem if you have a handbook in place that doesn't address an important issue in your workplace.
Do yourself—and your team—a favor and make sure an attorney has looked over the language and given you some pointers.
An Employee Handbook Is a Guide for Standards
At CNet Technologies, we know that having a clearly defined set of standards in the form of your employee handbook not only protects you as the employer, but it offers your employees a chance to make educated choices in the workplace as to their conduct.
Additionally, your handbook makes it easier to work with your third-party screening company of choice when it comes time to perform background checks and drug screenings. With clearly outlined policies, everybody wins! As a third-party screening provider, we support companies like yours while you develop sound screening policies for your employee handbook.
Don't be afraid to reach out to us if you have questions concerning the screening process, your employees, and your company: we're here for you!