Is your Employee Handbook fluid or fusty?

Wow. We are halfway through the year already. Time has really galloped on and the legislative landscape continues to evolve at speed. Have your employment, policies and HR practices kept pace and evolved too?
When it’s busy it’s easy to forget that employment policies underpin the culture of your organisation. It is almost certain that an organisation’s employment policies relating to its workforce will be out of date before you know it unless they have been reviewed within the last 12 months – and the worst time to find this out is when you need to rely on them. Changes in 2017 and 2018 that you have hopefully incorporated into your handbook already include:

• General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
• Developments regarding employee, worker and self-employed status
• The treatment of regular overtime and commission when calculating holiday pay
• Payment of accrued annual leave to those on long term sick leave
• Associative disability discrimination
• Tests for a public interest disclosure

Based on the statistics, most employers have probably made a token attempt at creating an employee handbook for their business – but are you missing the opportunity to properly customise and brand yours and use it to really extract some business value? Here, I uncover some of 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, writing it in Plain English. At the end of the day, your handbook should be there to support staff – 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 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. Good practice is to at least set a review date every 12 months, and ideally, it would be every 6 months.

Neglecting to seek out a professional opinion
You wouldn’t finalise 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 me 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 familiarised 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, do you need some help with your either creating or bringing your Employee Handbook up to date?  offer a variety of different templates from the “do it yourself” version right up to the fully bespoke version. Why not get in touch with us to see how I can help you?