Human resources professional consultant and trainer Catherine Mattice explains how to write a company policy handbook, including using the right tone for a company’s culture. In this video, she covers the important components to include, the proper employee distribution and how to make revisions. You will also learn where to obtain a template employee handbook.
- The Corporate Policy Handbook is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when people think about Human Resources. We are indeed tied to this book as it serves as the law inside your organization, and sometimes you are the judge and jury as you hold people accountable to it, but that doesn't mean it has to read like stereo instructions. If you haven't already, a great place to start is to purchase a template from one of the many HR compliance websites out there. Your employment law attorney may also have a template to offer you or at least some suggestions on where to get one. Once you have a template, go through it page by page and make adjustments to suit your company's policies, as well as your organizational culture.
You'll want to include a letter from your CEO and your organizations vision, mission, and core values up at the front. Your performance management and disciplinary procedures may need some tweaking and so forth. Also, make sure your organization's code of conduct is at the beginning. Anyone joining your organization, who receives this handbook on their first day of work, will need to know right up front what's expected of them in terms of behavior. You can even offer that page up in your interviews with candidates to find out whether it suits their personality. Your handbook should be written in a formal way, but it must be understandable, so it should be clear and concise, but it should also match the tone of your organization.
For instance, a handbook in an attorney's office likely has a different tone than one in a start-up tech company. If you're in that start-up, you'll need to find the balance between firm, concise language, and the free spirit that comes with that line of work. Another recommendation is to keep it simple and easy to read, and then as your organization grows, you can update things as needed. Handbooks are meant to be revised so don't be afraid to do so. For example, I once worked for an organization that started with only nine people. The dress code policy was simply that you must be presentable.
As we grew, I found the policy needed to get more specific to ensure acceptable versus unacceptable clothes were clearly defined. When you make those changes, be sure to mark the date and revision number in a footer that appears on all pages and communicate the exact change and where it can be found to all organizational members. In some cases you'll want to obtain a newly signed acknowledgement and for others that may not be needed. For example, an updated harassment policy needs a signed acknowledgement that it was received.
An updated policy that the day after Thanksgiving will now be an official corporate holiday probably does not. Of course, any new hires should also sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook. Pay attention to the way your handbook looks. In the old days, a 100 page document with no pictures was the standard, but technology has changed the way we process information. So much information passes by our desk each and every day. If you want people to actually review your policies, you need to grab their attention. Have a little fun with it.
Perhaps bright orange headers are appropriate for your organizational culture or a picture of a person using a cell phone could be included on the page where your cell phones at work policy appears. Finally, be sure to have your employment law attorney review your handbook. There are many things you can't include, such as prohibiting people from talking about their salary or prohibiting posts on social media about your company. As long as they aren't posting confidential information, employees can indeed complain about you online. All the more reason to secure a fair, respectful workplace where your employees can thrive.
On that note, remember that all of your policies must be enforced consistently and fairly, so go and get started and don't be afraid to have a little fun with your company's handbook.
HR consultant Catherine Mattice outlines some of the considerations of the human resources professional, such as balancing the needs of employees with the interests of the organization. She reveals how to conduct an HR audit to identify HR practices that need improvement. She then outlines core HR responsibilities: staffing, training, documentation, compensation and benefits, performance reviews, job descriptions, compliance with state and federal regulations, and more.
- Building trust with employees
- Conducting an HR audit
- Classifying employees
- Setting up compensation and benefits
- Creating and enforcing company policies
- Writing job descriptions
- Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new employees
- Managing employee performance
- Training employees
- Disciplining employees