employee handbook imageWhen I was newly hired as a Human Resources Director, I spent my first day reviewing the company’s policies, new hire paperwork, and performance management documents.

Their Employee Handbook was a mess. I started a To-Do list, and wrote “Update Employee Handbook” at the top.

And that’s as far as I got. “Update Employee Handbook” sat at the top of my list for six years.

 

When you’re in charge of Human Resources, you don’t have the luxury of uninterrupted time to re-think, re-word, and revise your Employee Handbook so that it reflects both your company’s compliance with new employment laws and the culture and tone you want to present to your employees.

I know I’m telling you something you already know – but in 2022, more than ever, it’s critical that your Employee Handbooks gets updated.

Here are just the 4 top reasons why your Employee Handbook needs to be updated now:

 

1)    Memorialize your Company’s compliance with all the new employment laws.

department of labor

Chances are good that, since your Employee Handbook was last updated, there have been important pro-employee changes to Paid and Unpaid Leave requirements, Discrimination based on race-related characteristics, Non-Compete Agreements and other “restrictive covenants,” Workplace Safety, Wage and Hour, and many other laws that have been enacted or amended.

And don’t even get me started about the new dangerous and costly scrutiny of your employee and 1099 contractor classifications.

Did you know that January 1, 2022 brought more than 100 new employment laws into effect across the country? And surprisingly, the majority of those are not in California.

Under President Biden’s administration, the Department of Labor is vigorously holding even well-meaning organizations accountable for HR non-compliance. Updating your Employee Handbook to reflect your Company’s compliance with the relevant employment laws goes a very long way to mitigate your human resources risk.

 

2)    Emphasize your company’s pledge to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

Sure, your Employee Handbook already includes a statement or two about the importance of Equal Opportunity within your organization – but think about what’s changed since your Handbook was last updated.

diverse employees

With the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements, the last two years have brought a new accountability for companies to affirm their commitment to DEI with tangible, measurable actions. As an HR leader, you’ve already seen how your employees expect and demand a focus on DEI from the top leaders of the organization — so now’s the time to reflect on your Company’s efforts and memorialize them for all to see in your Handbook.

Your Employee Handbook also needs to reflect the importance of DEI within your workplace. This is the time to expand your “Equal Opportunity” statement to show your Company’s sincere dedication to DEI.

 

3)    Set a kinder, gentler tone to respect and retain your employees.

OK; I haven’t actually read your Handbook – but I’ll still bet that at least parts of it are a little … shall we say … “harsh.”

Most Employee Handbooks were written to tell employees “The Rules” so that employees could be punished — errrrr “held accountable” — for breaking them. The Company wanted to make sure the Handbook explained the balance of power in the employment relationship: they had it, and the employees didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong — we all agree there need to be rules (and consequences for violating the rules.) But in the midst of The Great Resignation, coupled with expectations of Generation Z and Millennials for equity and respect, your Handbook needs to strike a different tone than it has in the past.

 

4)    Recognize your remote workers.

Speaking of things that have changed in the last two years – you’ve got many more remote workers now than you had when you last updated your Employee Handbook, right?

And if we’ve learned anything from the barrage of studies and white papers that’ve been emailed to us HR leaders, it’s that we HR leaders have to work extra-hard to make sure our remote employees feel seen, recognized, and supported in their off-site work arrangement.

One of the easiest ways to show your remote employees that they’re as important to you as on-site employees is to formally adopt into your Employee Handbook those policies you put in place during COVID. Your Dress Code, Hours of Work, and Attendance policies probably need to be tweaked too.

Want to talk through what’s missing in your Handbook or get help updating it?  Click here to schedule a free Employee Handbook consultation.  

About the Author: Danielle M. Verderosa

Danielle Verderosa is the Founder and President of HR Allies, a human resources consulting firm specializing in small and medium-sized businesses’ compliance with employment laws. She has 25 years of HR experience in the hospitality, senior living, and defense security industries. Most recently a Vice President of Human Resources for a 105-year old contract management services company with more than 4,000 employees, Danielle has the HR industry’s top professional credentials and has been the recipient of several national awards honoring her integrity, leadership, and business excellence. You can reach Danielle directly at Danielle@hrallies.com.

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