It’s almost that time of year; time to take out your employee handbook, spruce it up, and re-deploy it to your employees for the new year. For many business owners, annually revamping and editing a handbook may seem excessive, but it’s essential. New municipal, state, and federal laws have come to fruition over the past year that will directly affect your handbook policies. We guarantee it. We’ll double down on this guarantee if you’ve hired employees who live in different states, allowed employees to work remotely from other states or offices, or any combination of the above.
So as we get into the spooky season, don’t let a little handbook update scare you. Instead, stay on top of updating this oh-so-important resource for your employees. Below is Montani Consulting’s recommended timeline for the maintenance and upkeep of your handbook.
September - October: In this first phase, the HR and/or Legal team will take this time to review existing policies and suggest edits based on changes in law, company policy, business needs, etc.
It’s important to note that all policies in the handbook should be adhered to. Don’t include anything you’re not actually doing. If you’re ever taken to court, all policies may be deemed null and void if you have some that aren’t being followed and others that
October - November: Next, the edits and changes to your Handbook are shared, and stakeholder buy-in happens. We find that many handbooks need involvement from IT, Payroll, Legal, building maintenance/security, and Executive Leadership (of course!).
As with all successful projects, one employee should be the project manager for this process (we recommend an employee who is well versed in municipal, state, and federal law – or a trusted third party like Montani Consulting). The project manager should ensure conversations about risk management, especially with new policies, are at the forefront as the updated document is reviewed and discussed.
December - January: Hooray! The new and improved handbook is rolled out to employees with a company-wide email highlighting significant or impactful policy changes. The responsible administrator should add the document to the intranet, internal communications, or resource pages for future reference.
Note: If you roll out the handbook in December, but it goes into effect in January, ensure it’s clear to all employees.
Each employee must also acknowledge receipt of the handbook using a signature page. Miss this step, and you’re missing a large part of what makes this an effective legal document.
January - February: If you’re making considerable changes to your handbook that affect most employees, we recommend that you host a lunch and learn meeting to review changes and take questions and feedback. This action is helpful because, while many HR practitioners love a good handbook, most employees don’t read them – yes, even when they have to sign something saying they have. When you take this extra step to ensure employees are clear on policies and procedures, you further protect the company and increase trust with your employees.
February - September: Throughout the year, your handbook project manager can gather notes and feedback and mark language that may need additional clarification in the next edition of your handbook. For example: Was the way you integrate different leave types unclear? Did someone request bereavement leave a year after they lost a loved one, and you forgot to detail when the cut off for that was? Did you note what leave types rolled over and which do not? Be sure that anything you’re NOT doing anymore is marked for deletion. Keep all notes in a dedicated space, ready to bring up with stakeholders when it’s time to renew that handbook again!
If you’re stumped or don’t have an Employee Handbook, Montani Consulting’s team of experts is always on standby!
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