The Importance of an Up-to-Date, Effective Employee Handbook

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By Bill Ford

Should your organization have an employee handbook?

If you believe that consistent, clear employer-employee communication is vitally necessary for productive and profitable operations, then your organization, regardless of size, should have a clearly worded up-to-date employee handbook.

An employee handbook is a basic written publication that is designed and distributed to staff for the pur­pose of providing staff as well as their family members with two (2) import­ant pieces of information:

  1. What can staff and their families expect from their employer?
  2. In return, what does management expect from its staff


Although face-to-face and one-on-one management-staff communica­tion is most important in establishing your credibility (earning the trust, confidence and respect of your staff), it is too easy for verbal explanations to be forgotten, misunderstood or even misinterpreted. As such, it is critical to put in writing all the details, facts and procedures the affect both staff and management. Such written policies reenforce the intent of the organization as well as the practical understanding of personnel policies, standards of performance, safety and health rules, etc.

Bottom line is that the employee handbook is to serve as the orga­nization’s fundamental tool so that employees can understand what management expects of them as well as what they can expect in return.

Basic advantages of a well writ­ten, up-to-date employee handbook include:

  • The handbook promotes good understanding of policies and benefits.
  • The handbook promotes consis­tency and subsequent manage­ment credibility.
  • The handbook saves time.
  • The employee handbook is an efficient new employee orienta­tion tool.
  • The handbook documents your fair employment practices as well as compliance with federal and state regulations.

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