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Does your Small Business Need an Employee Handbook?

The short answer, yes.

No matter the size of your small business, it’s a good idea to have an Employee Handbook but it doesn’t have to be the Handbook of the old days.

I know a lot of small business cringe when thinking of having an Employee Handbook because they don’t want it to feel too “corporate” or stuffy. We definitely understand that. The good news is, having an Employee Handbook isn’t a bad thing and it can be done in a way that fits your small business culture and work environment. There are some policies that you just can’t get around because they are required by law, but there are other ways to put personality into the Handbook.

Here are 3 ways to have a great Employee Handbook for your small business:

  • Know which laws apply and which don’t – Employment law is based on the number of employees a company has as well as the State(s) where the employees work. In a small business, it is important to understand what employment laws apply to your business so that you can comply and have the appropriate policies to guide managers and employees.

  • Keep it simple – It isn’t necessary to pack the Handbook with every policy you can think of. They need to be specific to the company, work environment, and culture, as well as make sense. For example: in a fully remote work environment, it isn’t necessary to have a Lactation Breaks policy. Even though that is normally required, it’s not necessary for a 100% remote work environment. (And yes, this was a real situation that we saw with a new client that came to us after being with another HR provider that gave them a completely unnecessary 80 page Employee Handbook. We were able to pare that down to less than 30 pages.) The bottom line is, make sure the handbook reads as something that people can understand and that it makes sense.

  • Personalize it – Adding character and design to the Employee Handbook is a great way to reinforce the company brand and overall culture of a small business. Add the company brand colors and change up the layout to add design elements to the document. Include pictures of employees, company products or company events as well as the mission and core values of the organization.

Handbooks are a bit of a necessary evil, but they can also be great tools if done correctly. But it must be done correctly. It is worse to have a Handbook that isn’t followed than to not have a Handbook at all.

If your small business has experienced changes related to employee headcount, work environment (in-office, remote, hybrid) or states in which employees have been hired, it is strongly recommended to implement an Employee Handbook, or have a professional conduct a review of the Employee Handbook if there is one in place that hasn’t been reviewed within the past 6 months. We can help.


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