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An Employee Handbook Is the Cornerstone of Communications on Workplace Policies

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Effective employee communications are essential to ensuring smooth operations for any business. A key element of your employee communications package should be your employee handbook.

An employee handbook sets out a company's policies and procedures. It establishes standards for all facets of on-the-job conduct and can prevent misunderstandings on the part of employees as to what is expected of them. Employers generally give an employee handbook to new workers upon hire, and to all employees whenever the handbook undergoes revision.

There are no set rules as to what to include in an employee handbook, so handbook content varies from company to company, and may be somewhat dependent on the type of business, its location, and employee demographics. Listed below are common topics that appear in employee handbooks:

  • Welcome to the company
  • A description of the company and its mission statement
  • Definitions of important terms, such as "full-time" and "part-time" employee and what is considered a normal "work week"
  • Work hours and attendance policies
  • Expectations about conduct while at work, including interactions with customers and coworkers, and the dress code
  • Safety procedures and what to do in the event of an accident at work or other type of emergency or disaster
  • Policies on tobacco use on company premises
  • Confidentiality policies concerning company information and processes
  • Time off policies (vacations, sick days, personal days)
  • Employee benefits (best to do only a brief mention, while referencing summary plan descriptions and other official benefits communications)
  • Policies regarding use of phones, email and Internet
  • Procedures for filing grievances about supervisors or coworkers

Click here to return to Amity Insurance E-Newsletter February 10, 2011.