SAN ANGELO, Texas — Last month the Small Business Development Center had the opportunity to offer an employee handbook seminar as part of its seminar series. The seminar was divided into two parts, and both were extremely informative. Therefore, I would like to share some of the information:
Many times small businesses don’t consider having an employee handbook because of the small number of staff they have, but it is important to be aware of the significance of written policies.
Having an employee handbook will always benefit a business. You will be prepared for when your business grows and, hopefully, you won’t face the uncertainty of what you can or cannot do when employing and managing staff. In addition, you will have well-defined employee policies that can settle disputes before they start and protect your business and your employees from litigation.
A handbook won’t protect you against everything that can go wrong with your employees, but the policies and procedures will provide guidance for fair and consistent treatment of employees, as well as critical government regulatory policies and company policies.
Here are some things to keep in mind about employee handbooks:
Avoid lengthy policies and the overuse of legal terminology within the handbook. Employees who become frustrated with the amount of information and with complex policies will never read it.
Make sure the handbook is given to each employee and they provide documentation acknowledging the content.
Employee handbooks can help improve employee morale by showing you are interested in fair and consistent communication for your employees.
It can set standards, bring new employees up to speed more quickly, and increase overall efficiency and professionalism.
Although nondisclosure agreements and conflict-of-interest statements are not legally required, having employees sign such documents helps to protect your trade secrets and company’s proprietary information.
It provides a clear explanation to employees that the company will make required deductions for federal and state taxes, as well as voluntary deductions for the company’s benefits programs.
The company’s leave policies should be carefully documented, especially those required to provide by law. Family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases and voting should all be documented to comply with state and local laws. In addition, you should explain your policies for vacation, holiday, bereavement and sick leave.
These are just a few suggestions given during the seminar, and the discussions within these subjects contained a variety of regulation do’s and don’ts.
Therefore, having the expertise of speakers like Deirdre Patillo, senior professional in human resources, from the SBDC in San Antonio not only benefited the attendees but also the employees who are affected by working with a more prepared employer.
“Business Tips” was written by Adriana Balcorta Havins, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at Adriana.Balcorta@angelo.edu.