In addition to his work in litigating and resolving employment disputes for his clients, Dan Chammas also works closely with a number of companies on an array of employment issues, such as creating processes for terminating employees and drafting employee handbooks. The latter is a challenge that all employers must face, as poor employee handbooks will fail to provide people with the information they need about the company and also means the company itself will struggle to nail down company rules and processes that employees must abide by. If you are new to writing employee handbooks, try to keep the following tips in mind.
Don’t Use Jargon
There will be sections of your employee handbook that relate to employment and labor law, which can make it tempting to slip into a more technical tone. While this may look impressive on paper, it will often be difficult to understand for employees. Your aim should be to make the handbook as concise and accessible as possible, not only because this benefits your employees but also because it will provide little room for misinterpretations, which can benefit the company in cases of employee dispute.
Remember that your employee handbook is a major part of the introductory materials that people will receive when they are hired. As such, you should aim to keep the tone fairly casual, as this will help new hires feel welcomed by the company. Use words like “we” and “our” when describing what your company does and its goals, as this creates a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
Define Workplace Rules
You need to set the standard for what employees can expect from the workplace and how they are expected to act as early as possible. Draft a set of rules that all employees need to follow and have an attorney go over it to make sure you have everything covered. Avoid being too harsh with these rules, as you may negatively affect workplace morale if you are too strict. Also make it a point to have employees sign a copy of this document and make sure you are quick to update it and have it re-signed if any of the rules change.
Each company will have a standard of ethics that it expects employees to abide by. It can often be difficult to describe this ethical code on paper, so the best way to handle the issue is to create hypothetical examples of ethical quandaries that can be related to real-life scenarios that employees may find themselves in. Consider placing questions in the handbook about these created scenarios and use the answers to educate your employees about ethical issues and how they should act to properly represent the company and themselves.
Dan Chammas is an experienced attorney with a focus on employment and labor law.