Why do SME’s need an Employee Handbook?

employee handbookMost business have a set of policies and procedures which cover topics such as Health & Safety, Diversity and Equality and Social Corporate Responsibility; but having a set of outdated documents that no-one ever sees is not deemed best practice.

For many business owners, putting together a comprehensive employee handbook that covers all relevant and important policies and procedures can seem like too much trouble. They hope that what they already have in place will suffice even as the organisation grows. This approach is fine until the business is faced with an employee issues, which could end up going to a tribunal.

It’s therefore safer and far less risky to have in place a comprehensive handbook that is developed by a professional human resources agency, like hchr, and given to and signed by every employee. It’s about managing the risk and not putting your successful business in jeopardy.

Implications

The implications of not having an Employee Handbook are as follows:

• If you don’t have a complete set of robust and relevant policies and procedures, then past and present actions will tend to become the company policies. The chances are that many of these practices could be deemed discriminatory due to a lack of consistency. This means that the business is susceptible to law suits and claims as employees have not had official notification of your polices.

• Employees have a right to know what the organisation expects of them in terms of behaviour and conduct. If the policies and procedures are not communicated to them, then the business cannot expect employees to behave at work in the ways they are expected to.

• It is particularly important to set what constitutes a breach of contract or what actions are likely to lead to a disciplinary hearing. By having a grievance and disciplinary policy in place you are protecting your business from potential costly lawsuits.

• All policies should be well written and understood by managers and supervisors so that they can lead by example and communicate the content effectively to other employees. Having an effective communication process in place is as effective as having a properly developed handbook.

Professional Approach

The most efficient and professional handbooks are those that are written by a professional HR consultant with a percentage of input from the business owner to ensure that the policies are relevant to that particular organisation and business sector.
Even if you only have one employee, you will still need a set of written policies and procedures, even if they are simple, one-page documents on your company headed paper. A good starting point is to cover key areas such as: hours of work and attendance, holidays, sickness, payroll, environmental, diversity and health and safety. These should also be signed by the employee to show that he or she has understood the organisation’s expectations.

As an organisation grows, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that the correct policies and procedures are in place, preferably in the form of an employee handbook, to protect all parties.

As a note of caution: an employee handbook is important to a business of any size as it is the most effective tool available to allow business owners to communicate the organisation’s policies and procedures in order to reduce any future liabilities.