Just as financial statements paint a picture of the fiscal health of a company, the employee handbook serves a similar purpose, telling a company’s story beyond legal compliance and policies. And like companies, no two handbooks are alike – they look different, use different formats, and cover different topics.
At PBO Advisory Group, our HR consultants understand there is more to a handbook than rules and regulations. They are also an important vessel to welcome new hires, communicate values and the “norms” of an organization’s culture, and an opportunity to spotlight a company’s brand.
If you’ve never thought of handbooks that way, you’re not alone. Below, we break down the themes that can exist in this important resource, covering topics that range from the necessary compliance information to perspectives that touch on culture.
Clarity & Consistency: Handbooks provide clear, standardized information about an organization’s values, norms, and expectations. They help ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page, promoting a consistent and coherent culture.
Alignment with Values: Handbooks can explicitly state an organization’s core values and mission. This reinforces the cultural norms and behaviors that align with these values, helping employees understand what the organization stands for and builds policy to align.
Onboarding & Orientation: New employees can use handbooks as a valuable resource during their onboarding process. They can quickly learn about the culture, expectations, and policies of the organization, which can help them adapt and integrate more effectively.
Reference for Conflict Resolution: In cases of conflict or disputes, handbooks can serve as a reference point to resolve issues. They outline the established policies and procedures for addressing problems and can guide employees and management in finding solutions that align with the organization’s culture.
Legal Compliance: Handbooks often include legal and regulatory information ensuring that the organization operates within the boundaries of the law. This can help protect the culture and reputation of the organization by preventing legal issues that may negatively impact the culture.
Communication of Benefits & Perks: Many handbooks include information about employee benefits, perks, and policies. This can contribute to a positive culture by demonstrating that the organization cares about its employees’ well-being and work-life balance.
Promotion of Inclusivity: Inclusive organizations use handbooks to outline diversity and inclusion policies, which can be instrumental in creating a more diverse and equitable culture. They can set the tone for respectful interactions among employees.
Safety & Security: Handbooks often include safety and security protocols. This not only ensures the physical safety of employees but also contributes to a culture of trust and well-being.
Change Management: As organizations evolve and adapt to changing circumstances, handbooks can be updated to reflect these changes. This allows the culture to evolve in a controlled and deliberate manner, ensuring that employees are aware of and aligned with new cultural norms.
Accountability & Responsibility: Handbooks make individuals and teams accountable for their actions and responsibilities. This supports a culture of personal and collective responsibility, where people are aware of the consequences of their actions.
And, back to that important compliance piece – as year-end approaches, employers are asking themselves, ‘Are there any state or federal laws changing that impact our handbook?’ Spoiler alert, yes! For example, in California, the amount of paid sick leave an employer is required to provide is increasing effective 2024. Handbooks need to reflect compliance changes such as this, with the recommended accompanying employee acknowledgment stating individuals read and acknowledge changes.
If you need a handbook or are looking for a refresh, PBO Advisory’s HR consultants can help. We streamline this work for our clients by engaging in conversations with employment attorneys and facilitating the workflow to create or update this valuable employer tool.
If you are interested in learning more about this service or how we can add value to your organization, please contact us.
Consulting HR Manager
858-622-1681 ext. 323