An employee handbook is vital to the success of your startup. But, perhaps you're wondering why your startup needs an employee handbook and when it's appropriate to create one.
Two of the simplest reasons you need one are for the creation of processes and policies and to facilitate benefits administration. Let's look at these reasons as well as a few others, but first, let's discuss when you need one.
When do you need a handbook?
While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, it's the best practice to have one as soon as you possibly can.
Because the handbook defines your policies, procedures, processes, benefits and more, it can easily help you solve disputes and answer questions.
If you don't have one at the outset, you should at least have one before your team hits 10 or more.
You can find templates online, or you can outsource the building of your handbook. Either way, if you have an attorney on staff or a human resources expert, you want to ask them to review the handbook before you send it out.
Drafting a handbook in the early stages of your startup forces you to think about how you want to run your company and what kind of culture you want to create.
It helps you look at the big picture and decide what you want your staff to wear, how you allocate cellphones and computers, vacation and sick leave, work from home, benefits, disciplinary action and more.
You'll find that doing it in the beginning stages of your startup sets you up for success and helps you ward off workplace disputes and conflicts.
Here are a few more reasons you need one.
It sets the tone
Welcome your new team members with a well thought out employee handbook. This makes a lasting impression and helps guide them through their first days and months at your company.
Onboarding is incredibly important to employee retention, and an employee handbook shows your new team members that you are a company that cares about its employees.
Overall, an employee handbook helps your team settle in faster, so they spend less time wondering about policies and more time focusing on their new role.
It promotes fairness
Many small businesses simply wing it when it comes to human resources. They may offer one staff member one set of benefits and another something completely different.
An employee handbook sets consistent policies through your entire startup and ensures that you are fair and equal to all employees, offering equal benefits when possible.
A book of documented policies leaves no room for questions about conflict resolution, sick leave, vacation, and rules.
It helps you grow
A handbook helps you scale your startup with consistency.
If you don't have one, and you're scaling quickly, all the important information gets passed down from employee to employee.
This leaves things open to interpretation, and it's a bit like a game of telephone – you have no idea what comes out in the end.
With an employee handbook, you maintain control over the dissemination of information.
This detailed document ensures all current and new employees are on the same page and leaves little room for error.
To conclude, your startup needs an employee handbook, preferably at the very beginning.
It helps set standards and a positive employee culture.
You want to remember, though, that one of the most vital parts of that employee handbook is getting your staff to read it and sign indicating they will abide by it.
During your new hire onboarding, you should go through the handbook thoroughly, and then have the new team member sign a document indicating they read it, understand it, and agree with it.
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