Safety & Training
Creating a Solid Employee Manual
July 5, 2007 By Lynda J. Murdock
If your organization were at risk of losing its most valuable asset, how fast would you remedy the situation?
If your organization were at risk of losing its most valuable asset,
how fast would you remedy the situation?
you may be in this situation today. If you are operating without a
comprehensive employee manual, you may just be flying by the seat of
Progressive organizations agree that people are
their most important asset. It’s surprising, then, to find that many
employers do not have a formal procedure in place to document their
expectations and prevent misunderstandings about employer policies.
Belonging to one of the most heavily regulated industries,
aviation related companies are certainly no stranger to policies and
Ironically, though, some companies find the task of
formalizing their own values and practices to be daunting. Others are
simply unaware of the importance of establishing a written set of
guidelines. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that many
companies lack an employee manual.
Yet, at very little cost to
the employer, the benefits of having a properly worded employee manual
are numerous – and the risks of overlooking one can be quite
detrimental. Not only does an employee handbook foster a positive work
environment by providing a clear set of expectations, it can also keep
an employer out of court or at least provide a better chance of
prevailing in the event of a lawsuit. On the flip side, poorly drafted
policies (or a lack of written policies) could land employers in court
with no leg to stand on.
And if cost issues alone are not enough
to convince you, consider this. An employee manual is a valuable
yardstick for fairness and consistency, ensuring that everyone is on
board with company policy.
GETTING STARTED: WRITING AN EFFECTIVE MANUAL
of the most important reasons to have an employee handbook is to ensure
that employees are clear on your expectations. Your manual should
include the following:
Pay procedures and benefits;
hours: Define the work-week. Explain policies on attendance, meal and
rest breaks, overtime, sick leave, holidays, and all other forms of
Personal Conduct: Provide detail on desired behaviour
(such as dress and timelines) as well as your policies on sexual
harassment, racial and sexual discrimination, use of alcohol, drugs and
tobacco, and expectations surrounding proper use of workplace
technology (telephones, computers, e-mail, and internet access).
Conditions of employment and performance appraisals;
Complaint and grievance procedures;
Disciplinary procedures and termination;
of conduct: include policies on technical competence (i.e., licensing),
conflicts of interest (i.e., working for others), confidentiality,
privacy, and signing authorities.
SOME EXTRA FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
employees on board. Meet with staff members to get their input on what
the employee manual should say; this will help employees support the
document. Also, make the contents of the employee manual binding by
incorporating it into a contract of employment.
flexibility into the wording by using terms such as “generally,”
“typically,” “usually,” and “may” and steer clear of any promises that
could be interpreted as absolutes. This ensures that managers have
flexibility in interpreting and applying the policies. Have the
policies reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that they comply with
Once you have an employee manual in place, use
it! Don’t let the handbook sit on the shelf. Plan to update it
regularly, change your written policies as needed, reserve the right to
add or terminate policies at any time, and ensure that the most recent
version is being circulated.
Don’t let your operation be grounded due to an oversight. Your employee manual may just be your first and last line of defence.