Explain, Maintain, and Train
Employee Handbook Best Practices
Your employee handbook puts all the policies and procedures that govern your business in one central location. At its most basic level, its purpose is to inform. When managed effectively, its reach can be far greater than that. Use the best practices of Explain-Maintain-Train as the foundation of your document management strategy.
First and foremost, your company’s employee handbook must explain your expectations related to how employees perform their jobs and function as part of your team. Topics include everything from time-off procedures and employee benefits to compliance regulations and harassment prevention policies. The breadth and depth of your handbook will depend on the complexity of your business, including the specific guidelines that regulate your industry.
When creating policies and procedures, write them in simple language and provide translations in other languages if necessary. Follow a consistent format for each policy so employees can easily understand why the policy exists, what they need to do to follow it, and what can happen if they don’t.
Policies and procedures can change frequently. Maintaining your company handbook includes both keeping it up to date and making sure those updates are communicated to employees. Digital document management streamlines this process. For example, you may be able to use your learning management system to post updates to your procedures, alert employees when updates are made, and track how many views the update receives.
Version control within your digital document management system is also important, especially as it relates to keeping records of when changes were made. Incorporating version control into your document management strategy allows to easily find what version of a policy was in effect at a specific time. This is often critical to responding to legal requests for policy documentation.
Your employee handbook is only as good as the training you provide to support it. All the documentation contained in the handbook is a solid foundation for your employee training programs. Think of it this way – if a job performance topic is important enough to be included in the handbook, it’s important enough train on. For example, employee benefit information should be included in your new employee orientation training. Compliance and human resources topics – such as PCI regulations or anti-harassment training – must be supported by training. A blended learning approach works best – start with online learning and follow up with on-the-job training.
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