Do you need to go to the trouble of developing an employee handbook?
Ask yourself these two questions:
- Do your employees clearly understand the mission, goals, guidelines, policies, and procedures of your organization?
- Do you have employee issues based on not understanding the above?
If the answer to #2 is “yes,” regardless of your answer to #1, then yep, you need an employee handbook!
Let’s face it, employee handbooks are there for one real reason only: to give you, the employer, a document to support your decisions!
I recently surveyed 183 employees in companies with an employee handbook. When asked if they read and understood what was in it, here were the responses:
- 167 said, “No.” Some chuckled and some actually rolled their eyes. Several came back with a qualifying statement about how it really didn’t matter if they read it or not.
- 14 asked, “We have an employee handbook?” And yes, I did verify that they had all been given one at their new hire orientation.
- 2 said, “Yes, the parts I care about.” Fair enough. I would agree that most employees use the handbook to find out about time-off accrual, holidays, and benefits.
I’ve written handbooks for three decades with the honest belief that they were a helpful resource and guide for employees. I believed the handbook was a way to help an employee connect with the community and culture of their new job. Can you hear the angels singing in the background? Yep, I heard them too.
Clearly, I was kidding myself.
After looking at the results from this very un-statistically sound survey, it became clear that the handbook is a big “I told you so” for employers. When employees claim that they didn’t know about a policy or procedure, employers are able to point to page 47 and say, “I told you so.”
So, do you need an employee handbook?
I still say yes! Two of my whopping 183 surveyed knew the handbook was the exact place they could find information about their benefits and time off, and didn’t have to go to HR!