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A blog providing trustworthy Human Resources advice to business owners, managers and employees plus the occasional LOL true story from the workplace.
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Five Mistakes That Business Owners Make With Employee Handbooks
According to a study by XpertHR, 92% of companies have created employee handbooks to share with their staff. But the finished document is about so much more than just listing your policies and sharing some mission statements that you’ve cobbled together over a cup of coffee with your managers.
Based on the statistics, you’ve probably made a token attempt at creating an employee handbook for your business – but are you missing the mark? Here, we uncover the mistakes that too many leaders are making and explain how you can turn things around.
Taking a cookie-cutter approach
Sure, there are certain things that all employee handbooks should include. But this certainly doesn’t mean that you should just download a free template from Google, fill in the blanks and hope for the best. Your business is unique. Its culture and practices make it individual and your handbook needs to reflect this. After all, first impressions count. So, you need to make sure that you’re giving your new recruits a quality document that reflects what you’re really all about.
Don’t be scared to showcase your business’s personality and create something that demonstrates what it’s like to work for your company. Your latest recruits should feel inspired, motivated and ready to face their new challenges.
Speaking in legal lingo
Your HR practices need to be created in accordance with relevant legislation. Staying on the right side of the law will save you a whole load of time and hassle. Before stuffing your handbook with jargon though, take a step back and think about how you can make the important information as easy as possible to digest. A better understanding of what’s expected will ultimately lead to higher rates of compliance.
Consider your audience and keep things as straightforward as possible. At the end of the day, your handbook should be there to help people – not overwhelm them.
Letting the document gather dust
The world of business changes and adapts every single day. New legislation is rolled out, light is cast on exciting and innovative ways to get the most out of a workforce, and advances in technology present new challenges. What works right now isn’t necessarily going to be fit for purpose in the near future.
Before signing off on your document as completed, set a date for review. Keeping on top of changes can be a manageable job only if you make sure that you don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Shockingly, 2.8% of employers don’t know when they last carried out any reviews or changes – don’t fall into this camp!
Neglecting to seek out a professional opinion
You wouldn’t finalize your end-of-year accounts without speaking to an accountant, so why should your employment documentation be any different? An HR professional will be able to advise you on anything that you might have missed, unearth any points that could potentially get you into hot water and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything’s in order.
Ready to seek out some advice that you know you can trust? Whether you’re starting from scratch with your handbook and you’re not sure where to begin, or you’ve done the work yourself and just want a second opinion, we can help. Give us a call right away for a no-obligation chat about working together.
Forgetting to make sure that every employee has their copy
Creating a document to be proud of is only the first part of the story. It isn’t going to make any difference unless you ensure that all employees get their copy, and that they’re given time to digest the information. These days, this is easier than ever before. Many companies decide to distribute their handbooks via email or an intranet system.
And finally, be sure to lead by example. When’s the last time that you familiarized yourself with the content? Do you have a copy on your desk? Are you confident that you could answer questions about the points that are covered? If not, consider this your wake-up call!
So what changes will you be making?
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All The Answers You Need To Your Christmas HR Questions
While most people begin to look forward to a little rest and recuperation over the Christmas period, it’s around this time that managers and business owners start to think about the nitty gritty, practical issues that they’ll have to contend with to keep their workforce engaged, motivated, and problem-free. It’s likely that you’ve got some questions about how you should handle things. You’re in luck, because we’ve got the answers! Read on to get the lowdown on what you really need to know. We’ve cut away all the jargon and fluff, so you can work out the best course of action for your business.
Q. Do I have to organize a Christmas party or function for my staff?
A. Obviously, there’s no legal requirement for you to host a party for your workers. There are some wider issues to consider here though. Just because you’re not obliged to do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t. Organizing a get-together could be a great way to thank everyone for their contribution.
If you’ve agreed to a Christmas party in your employment contracts though, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. As well, if you’ve offered this perk for many years, it could be argued that it’s an unwritten agreement.
One of the key worries among leaders is always cost. You don’t have to dole out a fortune though. Think outside the box, work with what you have, and don’t be scared to try something a little out of the ordinary.
Q. Everyone wants to take time off. How can I manage this?
A. Getting this right all comes down to the finer details of your employment contracts. You must take the time to assess the precise terms and conditions that you’ve laid out regarding how holiday can be taken. Generally speaking, staff should know how to request time off, and how decisions will be made by the management team.
If you have certain busy periods, you may decide that you’ll only accept requests for time off between certain dates in exceptional circumstances. If you had a staff member who was getting married, for example, then you may reconsider your stance.
This issue comes down to making sure that your HR policies and procedures are fit for purpose, and very clearly communicated to your staff. If you think that you might be missing the mark here, it could be time to work with an expert who’ll be able to get you on the right track.
Q. Not all of my staff are Christian. What are the implications here?
Having a diverse workforce has a multitude of benefits. You do need to make sure though that you’re conscious of differing beliefs, and the issues that could be at play. Remember that Christmas is a national holiday within the US, and it’s recognized among many religious groups (including the non-religious) as having a special status. If you have many employees from different religions, it may be worthwhile considering making arrangements to recognize other holidays that your staff may wish to celebrate.
This can seem like a minefield, but it’s very possible to devise an approach that will suit all needs. You may need some help though when it comes to understanding the relevance and important of various different holidays. As such, you might decide to hold a consultation exercise with your employees. Getting everyone involved in decisions that will have an impact on the workforce will ensure that they’re accepted.
Q. Should I give my staff a gift?
A. It’s the season to spread a little cheer, and you might decide to reward your staff with a gift. This could be a great idea. There are a few things to consider though to ensure that your gesture doesn’t end up backfiring on you.
First of all, make sure that everyone receives their gift. This includes anyone who may be away on maternity, paternity, or sick leave. You might decide to have the gifts delivered, if it seems appropriate.
As well, think carefully about the nature of the gift. A bottle of wine may seem like a good idea, though not so much if you have members of staff who abstain from alcohol. Use your common sense, and get a professional’s opinion if you’re struggling to find a way forward.
If you take the time to get things right, you don’t have to turn yourself into a Scrooge this Christmas with the worry of what to do for the best for your workforce.
To have an informal chat about your obligations and your opportunities, get in touch today.
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