I love to help clients create and launch employee handbooks. Seeing all their ideas, mission language, and benefits they provide come together with their specific policies and procedures is often a labor of love. A way to show employees they care and want to do right by them in a whole host of ways. The launching of a handbook can be a time that brings teams closer and helps cement organization culture in document form.
Living, Breathing Document
Once a handbook is created and launched, the work is not done. It should not stay stagnant for 20 years. It needs to be updated regularly to fulfill its duty of supporting and protecting the staff and the organization. I recommend employers review and update their handbooks annually and have staff sign a new acknowledgement form for the updated version. Reviewing annually will make sure that nuanced changes in how the organization interprets policies and procedures are formally captured.
Annually is a great cadence to have staff review handbook changes, sign new conflict of interest waivers, update their emergency information, review payroll tax forms, and more. These information reviews can easily be a part of an annual training or gathering.
Significant National Events Speed Up The Process
There are times when an annual handbook review is not fast enough. When there are events of major proportion going on in your city, state, and/or country that involve communicable diseases or legal changes, it is important to jump on these right away. Employers must show they care about their staff and want to solidify new safety or legal changes in the handbook timely.
If an organization wants to launch a new policy mid-year, this can be done as a standalone policy with its own acknowledgement signature page and then be added into the handbook at a later time if needed.
Consequences of Letting Handbooks Stagnate
Morale – Consider the message the leadership of an organization could inadvertently send when they do not update their handbook after a Supreme Court ruling increasing protections for LGBTQ+ staff. Or the failure to capture the safety lessons learned after the COVID-19 pandemic before another communicable disease comes along. Leaders can miss a great opportunity here.
Compliance – When law changes, staff have the right to know about it and exercise their rights to use it. Avoid getting the organization in a heap of trouble by waiting to make important changes to the handbook in a timely fashion.
Transparency Is Always In Fashion
In times of tumultuous change, let staff know that the leadership is trying to capture important handbook updates as they arise. And in times of change multiple updates might be needed to protect everyone. They will appreciate leaders that are on the ball and tuned into important changes that impact them.
Need Help With a Handbook Update?
Let me know! Have a handbook headache you want to discuss? I’m here for you. Cheers to providing top notch leadership in your organization.