I've only got one employee? Do I need an Employee Handbook?

Employee Handbook, Staff Handbook, HR Policies for Small Businesses

Whether you have just one employee🚶or a team of 250 people, having an Employee Handbook for your business is a win-win for you and your team. Here I explain what it is, why it will benefit your business, no matter what size you are, and how you can get the most out of it. 😀

WHAT’S THE DEAL?

An Employee Handbook is a collection of HR policies, procedures and guidelines, and employment related information about a company. It’s like a booklet, either digital or physical that is given to employees when they join your Company, along with their Contract of Employment. 📖

It may sound like a boring document but it doesn’t have to be. You can make it as long or short as you want, and design it to reflect your own brand and style. Done well, it sets the tone of how things work at your Company 💪🚀

IS IT WORTH THE FUSS?

I would say so. The reason why problems happen is businesses is often due to misunderstandings because things aren’t written down. Here’s some benefits for a business to have one.

💡 Clarity – Having a written set of policies and procedures, all contained within one document, provides employees with clarity as to what you expect of them, and what they can expect of you. It sets out clear parameters for behaviour; what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour at work, and what the potential consequences are. 

💃 Explains your culture & values – It helps you define the kind of working environment you want to create. The information you include and the language you use convey an image of the kind of employer you are. It also sets out what you value as an employer, which helps your employees to understand how they can be aligned to your company values.

🙂 Ensures fairness and consistency – It helps ensure that your employees are treated fairly. If you haven’t got written policies in place it probably means you haven’t given much thought to your approach or position on certain things. If your employees notice that they’re not all being treated the same and some are being treated more favourably, this could lead to claims of discrimination.

🙌 Protects your business – It helps you defend against an employment claim. If your handbook contains the key policies, then it shows that your business takes its employer responsibilities seriously, and you have taken ‘reasonable care’ to avoid unfair treatment of your employees and workplace behaviour that isn’t in line with employment law.

💰 It won’t break the bank– they aren’t expensive. If you buy a done-for-you template, you have one in place within an hour. The one I created is just £99 including VAT and you get instant access upon purchase. Also, when the law changes, you’ll get access to future versions I create too.   

IT'S MORE THAN JUST A BUNCH OF RULES

Your employee handbook can be so much more than a collection of policies and processes though. It can be an opportunity to inject a bit of your company’s personality. These are some suggestions that can help set you apart as an awesome employer that people want to work for:

  • A welcome letter from the MD or business owner
  • Statement about your company strategy, vision and values
  • Information about company benefits

 
My top tips for getting the most out of your employee handbook:

  1. Make it ‘non-contractual’. If you state at the beginning of the handbook that it’s non-contractual, you’re basically saying that you have the right to make reasonable changes to anything contained within it from time to time. Why? Because it is a contractual document it’s legally binding which means you would need to ‘consult’ and agree changes with your employees, the same way you would consult with them if you wanted to change their hours of work, or their location. No one needs this if all you’re doing is tweaking your procedure on calling in sick or changing it to comply with the law.

  2. Make it easily available to your employees. Give a copy to each of your new employees and have a copy either on your intranet or in a communal location in your workplace where people know where to find it. Also, make sure you clearly communicate with your employees if you make changes.

  3. Make sure your new employees know they are expected to read it before they sign their contract, and they know who to speak to if they have any questions. Get them to sign a disclaimer/ acceptance form to acknowledge they’ve received, read and understood it.

  4. Make sure you and any managers understand the policies and know that they have a responsibility to manage their direct reports consistently and in line with them. This document should set out your role in managing people and tricky employee issues.

  5. Review it twice a year to make sure it’s still compliant, particularly if there have been changes to employment law. ⏱


If you’re daunted by the thought of creating an employee handbook yourself, you can find a downloadable employee handbook template here, all ready for you to customise for your business, and saving your time and effort in creating one from scratch. 📲🎀

 

 

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