Many clients come to us in search of an Employee Handbook, noting that they have "nothing in place" currently, or an "out of date" policy manual that sits on a shelf gathering dust.
But what is the true value of an Employee Handbook, and why should every workplace have one?
Ask an employment lawyer, and they will tell you that your first line of defense at the WRC will often be your policies and procedures. These are usually contained in your Employee Handbook, and to rely on these, you will need to ensure your staff receive a full overview on the Employee Handbook and training on all policies and procedures at induction and on-boarding, and again at least once per year consistently across the whole organisation as refresher training.
Such policies and procedures including those relating to Health and Safety, First Aid and Manual Handling, Bullying and Harassment, Non-Discrimination and Harassment, Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, Codes of Conduct, and general workplace policies and procedures. Not only are many of these statutory requirements (that is to say you are legally obliged as an Employer to provide these polices and procedures, and ensure your staff are fully trained and compliant with these), but they are also genuinely useful in understanding the steps both Management and your Employees need to follow, and in communicating to Employees what is expected of them and the logistics of day to day operations.
The second reason for the Employee Handbook, and the policies, procedures and processes contained therein, relate to dealing with challenging behaviours or conduct in Employees. Without a thorough disciplinary procedure and effective Code of Conduct, it can be exceptionally difficult to discipline or ultimately remove an employee who isn't performing, or whose conduct or behaviour is unacceptable. Equally, the Handbook can point the Employees in the right direction if they feel they are being bullied, mistreated or have a serious grievance they need to raise.
Finally, your Handbook can be used to introduce new Employees, and to remind current staff of your vision, mission and values, the history of your organisation, to showcase the benefits on offer, and of your corporate culture. This will help instill a sense of pride among your people, and a shared vision for your business.
Employee Handbooks are, what they say, a "live" document. This means that the Handbook should be updated when operational processes change, where a change of employment law dictates an update to a policy, or where the business requires new policies or procedures to clarify certain matters. As such, once your Employee Handbook is created, it is important to not only roll this out to your new Employees and consistently provide for refreshers once per year for all other staff, but equally important that it is reviewed and updated by Management when needs be.
At HR Support Ireland, we can conduct internal HR Audits including strategic reviews of your Employee Handbook or individual policies and procedures against best practice and employment law, as well as new and bespoke Employee Handbooks or individual policies for clients looking to "start from scratch". Contact us today to discuss how we may be able to assist.