Staff Handbooks – why do you need them?

A staff handbook might seem like some unnecessary admin, especially when you class yourself as an SME or growing business. However, keeping employees informed of how your company works is an essential piece of communication and can really contribute to the efficiency of your organisation.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

What is a staff handbook?

A staff handbook is, simply, a reference document can be made available to each employee containing information about your company. This may include company rules, HR policies, terms and conditions of employment and information on facilities and amenities.

What do you put in a staff handbook?

The staff handbook gives details of the employment relationship; provides a source of information about their workplace and gives expectations of behaviour.

Basic HR policies that should be included are:

  • Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
  • Grievance Policy
  • Equal Opportunity Policy
  • Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • IT Use Policy
  • Social Media Policy

It can increase understanding of your actions as an employer, and well as improving trust between you and your employees. Introducing a dialogue between you and your employees about what should be included in the staff handbook, as well as making changes to policies where reasonable, can also improve communication, trust and morale.

What format should the staff handbook take?

Whether the staff handbook is basic or very extensive is up to you. It is preferable for it to be non contractual, to protect you as the employer from being in breach of contract if it is not followed to the letter.

The handbook does not need to be printed or expensively produced. In some cases it may require no more than stapling together various pieces of existing information, or creating a soft-copy pack to be emailed through to employees.

Has your business got a staff handbook? Do you think your staff handbook needs updating? Contact HR That Helps today to find out more about how these documents can create a more efficient and risk-aware business.

Do you have a good policy in place for social media use?

Social media use is increasingly integrated into our lives –and this means that the line between business and personal use are often blurred. You must protect your business by ensuring that you have a sound policy on social media use in place for your employees.

Acas reports it is estimated that “misuse of the internet and social media by workers costs Britain’s economy billions of pounds every year”. You don’t want to risk the profitability, efficiency and reputation of your business by not having a social media policy in place.

What is social media?

Although we’ve all heard of Facebook and Twitter, social media is the term for all online channels where people can interact. These can include image-based smartphone apps such as Instagram or Snapchat, online forums and groups, business-based sites such as LinkedIn, and blogging sites.

This increasing volume of instant, uncontrolled communication can affect relationships between managers, employees and job applicants, as well as how your organisation promotes and controls their reputation.

What needs to be in a social media policy?

Your policy has to set boundaries on behaviour on social media for your managers and employees. You need to include what is and what is not acceptable for general behaviour at work, and how people should consider what they post and how it can affect others in their working environment.

The use of social media and technology in general can also distort what boundaries there are between home and work. Consider the use of the internet, emails, smart phones and social media in both work and home for your employees.

What else do I need to consider?

Recruitment – make managers aware that assessing applicants by looking at their social networking pages can be discriminatory and unfair.

Privacy – make employees aware of privacy and security settings on their social media profile. They need to make considered decisions about who from the work environment can view their personal information

Updating other policies: Social media and technology can have a far reaching influence on many of your other business policies. For example, your policy on bullying should be updated to include references to ‘cyber bullying’.

To find out more about what a social media policy should include, contact us today. You can also follow HR That Helps on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for more advice and support on HR for your business.

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