Roedel Parsons Koch Blache Balhoff & McCollister

Tips for creating useful employee handbooks

Whether a company has 15 employees or 50,000, crafting a relevant and effective employee handbook is a non-negotiable part of business operations. If the handbook is lacking, employer-employee relations are likely to suffer. In the most extreme cases, poorly written handbooks may prompt disputes and create the unnecessary expense of litigation.

Following are six tips to keep in mind when it comes to creating or updating an employee handbook:

1. Keep it concise.

In today’s technological age, when employees are far more used to skimming web pages on their phones than reading paper documents, it pays to keep employee handbooks short and to the point. Likewise, avoid crafting overly verbose pages or ones filled with convoluted terminology. Consider using bullet points and a significant amount of white space to improve readability. This is particularly important if your handbook will be come in a mobile-friendly format.

2. Stay up to date with the law.

Louisiana law is constantly evolving, as is federal law. It is critical to ensure that your employee handbook reflects the most current statutes and appropriately addresses any new legal issues that may impact your company. An employment law attorney can be a valuable resource in this regard.

3. Avoid any disconnects between reality and theory.

As Forbes points out, it is easy for organizations to say one thing on paper but demonstrate something entirely different in practice. Your employee handbook should accurately reflect your company’s actual practices and values. If it does not, employees may possibly be able to assert that your company engaged in unfair employment practices.

4. Make sure it is tailored, yet flexible.

Your employee handbook should be specifically tailored to your organization. If you own a restaurant, for instance, the handbook should address company policies for how waitstaff should handle tips. At the same time, the handbook should not be so specific that it needs to be updated every month. Focus on policies and principles that will remain consistent.

5. Use it to reinforce your company brand.

The employee handbook should reflect your company’s unique brand and mission. Ideally, when employees read the document, it should inspire them with a sense of the company’s corporate culture and remind them what the organization stands for.

6. Remember the disclaimer and employee signatures.

It is important to specify that the handbook is not an employment contract and that employment is on an “at will” basis, if such is the case. It is equally important to ensure that all employees sign off on the handbook after they receive a copy of it.

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