In the digital age, employee handbooks may seem old-fashioned. The fact is, most businesses still need them. Some have switched from binders and paper to digital documents, but they still provide these manuals, and that shouldn't change.
Why are handbooks so important? You can almost count the ways.
Onboarding Is Easier with Employee Handbooks
The first reason to use employee handbooks is because they provide a solid foundation to work from as you onboard new employees.
These documents lay out your company policies and procedures. They may outline benefits, as well as policies around Internet use and even communication.
In short, they tell your new hires a fair bit about your company culture. The benefits you offer will showcase what you value, while your communication policies inform people about what to expect. Training and development programs and wellness initiatives show how much you value and invest in your team.
The written documents provide references for employees. They can also act as contracts. Ask employees to read them, then test their knowledge or have them sign a statement acknowledging their understanding and agreement to abide by the policies.
Providing References for Employees
You might think employee handbooks are only useful for your new staff. What about the team members who have been with you for quite some time?
Employee handbooks are still a helpful resource. These documents provide a reference manual to help everyone when they have questions. An employee handbook can be a useful reminder of how to conduct themselves in the workplace. It may provide valuable information on how to deal with uncomfortable workplace situations, such as harassment.
It might also tell employees how to make use of their benefits, or where they might turn for help if they’re experiencing difficulty in their lives.
Since handbooks are written documents, employees could reference them any time to double-check something. Verbal statements can easily be forgotten or misremembered. If an employee is unsure, they may locate the relevant answers in the handbook.
Another reason employee handbooks are indispensable in the modern age is because they can be useful in communicating updates to employees.
As employers rethink their benefits programs and implement new policies around harassment, communication, Internet use, and pay transparency, there’s plenty for employees to keep up to date with. The handbook could provide a convenient place for your employees to consult.
Digital handbooks are even more easily updated. You can add documents to a portal, accessible to all employees. Documents can be updated and replaced with new versions, and old versions may be archived.
In this way, it becomes much easier for employees to stay up to date with policy changes, and much easier for you to communicate them. Encourage employees to regularly check in with the handbook in order to see what updates have been made.
In turn, your communication will also be improved. Your employees will have a valuable resource to turn to when they need information, and you can be sure they always have the latest information at hand.
Give Remote Workers Direction
Another reason employee handbooks are key has been highlighted by many businesses’ switch to remote work. Maintaining company culture and enforcing company policies can be challenging in remote work situations. With employee handbooks, your team will always have the references they need at their fingertips.
Supplying these documents digitally makes them easily accessible for everyone on your team, no matter where they’re working from. If employees have questions about how to conduct themselves or what’s expected of them in their new remote work arrangement, your employee manual may be a great place to seek answers.
Is It Time to Revise Your Handbook?
If you haven’t been using employee handbooks or haven’t updated yours for a while, it may be time to take a look at them. Handbooks are still important for every employee on your team.