Handling Evolving Employee Manual Issues
Most organizations issue employee handbooks, official documents covering their rules on numerous aspects from appropriate conduct to benefits. A new survey of 521 company representatives found that business sectors influence guidebook prevalence.
Nonprofits topped the list with 94.9 percent providing policy guides while 92.6 percent of private-sector enterprises and 86.1 percent of public-sector employers followed suit. And 46 percent of organizations without manuals plan to create theirs within the next year. To complicate this process, various rules need updating to reflect changing labor laws and technologies.
Common Business Practices
According to the survey, 78 percent of firms modified their employee handbooks during the last two years while 14.2 percent did so in the previous three to five years, 3 percent between six and nine years, 2.1 percent 10 years ago or longer, and 2.8 percent were unsure when their last amendments occurred. Some 64 percent of employers plan to revise their policy manuals during the next year.
Keeping handbooks current with ever-changing workplaces and workforces was the greatest challenge for 41 percent of surveyed organizations. Matching updated laws came in second at 35.6 percent. Third place at 11 percent was coaxing staffers to follow company policies. For just 3.4 percent of respondents, the main challenge was tackling state requirements.
The leading new and evolving workplace issues that the latest American employee handbook versions address include:
- Employer-paid sick days (79.4 percent)
- Information protection (67.2 percent)
- Social media usage (64.2 percent)
- Vaping electronic cigarettes on site (20.6 percent)
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) protection (17.2 percent)
- Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies (14.5 percent)
Interestingly, most of these modern concerns weren’t issues in past decades. Despite medical marijuana being a tricky workplace challenge that’s legal in almost 50 percent of states, just 6.4 percent of respondents addressed this topic explicitly in their employee handbooks. Wearable tech devices like smart watches and head-mounted displays may be hot new trends, but only 4.1 percent of businesses have announced official policies in their manuals.
Addressing fluctuating workforce issues is a complex responsibility. Revising your employee handbook to incorporate evolving laws and innovations ? even ones that have yet to impact your business ? will help avert misunderstandings among your crew if situations arise. Being proactive also could help your company avoid legal troubles. As a vital tool that ensures management consistency, your manual also familiarizes all supervisors and staffers with their obligations and rights. But incorrectly prepared rulebooks may create potential liabilities, leaving you susceptible to workers’ legal claims.
National PEO is a great resource to overcome such complications. We’ll write or amend your basic employee handbook or custom create complex versions with unique criteria for diverse factions. About one of five surveyed companies provides multiple publications for different teams. Typical variations include:
- Permanent and seasonal employees
- Hourly and salaried staffers
- Office and field personnel
- Union and non-union workers
- Exempt and non-exempt employees
- Staffers at the corporate office and various state locations
- Managers and their reports
- Staff, faculty, and administration positions
Because misstating and violating federal and/or state laws in your rulebook is illegal, research is crucial. In addition to explaining your company guidelines and policies, we’ll include all mandatory compliance notices and ensure that special policy requirements meet industry standards.
Handbook Preparation and Distribution
The survey showed that 58.5 percent of respondents use in-house human resource staffers to prepare their employee handbooks for lawyer reviews. But workers received 18.8 percent of internally produced manuals without attorney oversight. In-house HR Departments handled 83.4 percent of updates while 3.7 percent of internal legal teams, 2.5 percent of outside consultants, and 1.4 percent of external law firms took on that responsibility.
If your firm tackles the major task of writing an initial handbook or its updates internally, keep your content brief but accurate in easy-to-understand terminology. Introduce your policy manual as a positive step to protect your organization, current staff, and future employees. Realize that by establishing company policies, you’re creating obligations that executives and managers must follow and enforce consistently.
Some 64.5 percent of businesses continue to distribute guidebooks in traditional printed form with intranet access coming in at 55.3 percent and email following at 28.2 percent. To track delivery and compliance, 92 percent of survey takers require workers to acknowledge and date receipt in writing. Typical employer statements assign workers with the responsibilities to read, understand, and follow their current handbooks’ rules and regulations.