Employee handbooks: how to protect your small business

Most bigger businesses and organizations have large human resources departments and utilize many resources to ensure they have best practices in place regarding their employment policies. But this important piece of the successful business puzzle is often overlooked by small organizations with limited resources. Owners and operators of small businesses may see their employees as close friends or even family, and as a result may not think an employee handbook is necessary. However, an employee handbook is an essential document that can protect an organization of any size from employment claims and lawsuits.

What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is a guide to company policies and procedures that employees can reference. Employee handbooks can contain company mission statements and core values. They typically also include information on benefits employees are entitled to while employed. Employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated regularly as organizations grow and change. All employees should sign an acknowledgement that they’ve been given and have read the employee handbook.

How to create an employee handbook

The Society for Human Resources Management, or SHRM, details the steps for creating an employee handbook in this useful article. Important steps include creating an outline, summarizing important employment policies, and having the entire handbook reviewed by legal counsel.  Aside from review by legal counsel, the drafting of an employee handbook is something that any employer can do themselves. While it may seem like an unnecessary task for a smaller organization, it only takes one employee being treated poorly for a claim or lawsuit to cost a business a significant amount, financially and in terms of their reputation. By taking the time to put together a quality employee handbook, some of these issues can be avoided.

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