Employee Handbooks | How Often Should You Update?
Posted on July 2, 2021
What is the Importance of Updating Employee Handbook?
If you’re one of many companies that hands out an employee handbook to every new hire and then never thinks about it, you’re not alone. However, the fact that other companies make that mistake doesn’t make it a good practice.
The employee handbook is one of the most important documents your business can have. A well-executed and maintained handbook protects your business legally and helps your employees understand policies and practices within your company.
Here, we’ll discuss how often you should update your employee handbook, what type of information your employee handbook should include based on your company, and reasons to update the information within your handbook.
How often should you update your employee handbook?
The employee handbook should be reviewed at least once per year. An annual process to review and update handbooks is adequate for most companies. The type of information that you include in your company handbook depends on the size of your organization.
Some companies keep the handbook concise to cover only what needs to be legally addressed. Other companies might use the handbook as an all-inclusive manual for their HR department and all of their employees. For companies located in multiple geographic regions, it’s important to notify employees and HR when there are regulatory changes to employment laws in those areas. However, that doesn’t necessarily need to be added to the handbook immediately. You might instead only produce those updates for the workers impacted by the new regulations.
One main reason that employee handbooks are so important for the company is that they protect the company legally. Employee handbooks lay out the procedures in your company and stipulate policies as they relate to employment law. If a past employee were to file a complaint, the handbook would be the first piece of evidence your company might use to verify decisions made with regard to that employee and any work situation.
Five Reasons to Update Your Employee Handbook
There are several reasons you might need to modify your handbook. Here are a few of the most common.
- Societal Changes. Norms and standards change. Just look at the many changes in the past decade in terms of social awareness. These whole society changes will often mean a need to update policies to reflect those changes within your company culture.
- Local and State Regulatory Changes. When changes are made to local and state laws that impact your employees, they need to be notified. These changes should also be added to updates in your employee handbook.
- Federal law. If there are changes or amendments to federal laws that regulate employment, they need to be amended in your handbook to stay current.
- Company Policy or Branding Changes. If your company pivots in a meaningful way, either on your policy or the direction your business is moving in, this should be reflected in the employee handbook. The handbook is used to list company policies as they meet regulatory requirements, but it’s also used as a way to help employees understand the company’s mission and culture.
- Add Information. There is a lot of information included in most handbooks. You might find that some important policies aren’t included. This is information you would want to add during your annual review.
Your employee handbook sets the tone for your employees. They can learn about the mission of the company, the way you determine the succession of employees, policies you have in place that are specific to your company, and the way that you meet and follow federal and state regulations. Making the handbook easily available to all of your employees can help them build a stronger company culture and find the sources that they need to answer questions about work-life in your company.
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