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Why employee self-service matters

18 Nov

HR Trend AnalysisWhat is employee self-service? You hear that term a lot, but if you are a relatively small employer and/or new to the HR role, do you really know? I didn’t until someone explained the concept and informed me that there was actually a product that could tie into my core HRMS to do the things I had been doing manually for years, then disseminate the necessary information to my managers and executives for approval or notification. Wow, talk about a surprise! How many personnel action forms have you completed for address changes, emergency contacts, phone number changes, and so on? You know the drill. A PA form is needed for everything! Plus, as HR, we are taught to “document” everything for use at some later point in time. Imagine … Employees key in their changes to personal information from the comfort of their desks (or even their homes), then, these changes follow some type of logical expression or pathway that you’ve preset in the system to automatically route to the appropriate individual(s) for approval or notification. Employees are able to access other pieces of HR information, which includes skills, job history, and performance reviews. Managers have instant access to employee data for both direct and indirect reports. They can review attendance information, employee performance, salary history, time off requested and much more. Really, the possibilities are endless.  Again … .whoaaaaa, cool! For some companies I’ve worked for, I was the person actually introducing and/or creating the PA form. What I mean by creating the PA form is taking a form and actually crafting it into an MS Word or other application (that is similar to being an artist or graphic designer using the computer), then training everyone on the PA form use, or just offering to complete the PA form for the managers to save them time for whatever change it is they needed to make within the HRMS. Can you say time consuming? Have you ever held that role? If you work in a small company, sure you have!

So, what’s the lesson learned or key takeaway here? Employee self-service products really can and do save you time and money. More importantly, though, they yield a healthy Return on Employee Investment by creating the best circumstances for each individual in the organization to perform at his or her best potential. For some employees within the organization empowerment makes all the difference in the world. By giving your employees ownership of their personal information and enabling them to input their own changes directly into the HRMS when it’s convenient for them to do so, you promote workplace satisfaction, thereby increasing your Return on Employee Investment. In addition, by encouraging your employees to use employee self-service to gain access to the relevant information they need when they need it, you can begin to enhance company communication and improve motivation. Plus, increasing employee engagement correlates directly with a positive impact on key metrics within the business, which will ultimately help the organization reach its goals.

The first step you need to take, though, is actually seeing an employee self-service product in action and then talking to a few people who are similarly situated to you with respect to the size of your organization and your specific role within it. It’s really that simple. I admit I was reluctant to the process at first because I thought I’d been doing a pretty good job of things on my own; however, once I realized (and saw for myself) that I could streamline this process entirely, while empowering my employees in the process, then I could begin to retool the next big labor intensive HR process.

Take the first step and start here … Visit our website: http://www.sagehrms.com/ or call Sage at 866-271-6050 and learn more about how this product will help you.

 

Have you lost your work-life balance or is it already gone?

3 Nov

HR Work Life BalanceAs an HR/Payroll professional, how many times in your career have you heard someone say, “I need to get a life outside of this place?” or “All I do is work, work, work,” or “my kids don’t even know who I am anymore” or “I need a mental health day.” Sound familiar? Sure it does. Maybe you have even joked about it with your friends or said it to yourself. In any case, it looks like your life has gotten a little off balance.

That’s okay. It happens a lot in HR/payroll. Why? Let’s face it. Depending upon your role in the profession, this can literally be a 24/7 proposition. How are you going to say to someone who needs your help with their HR or payroll issue (an issue that really can’t wait like a paycheck that didn’t make it into a direct deposit account, someone’s health deduction was taken out twice on their check, an employee who had the wrong state’s taxes taken from their check, a hospitalized child where the parent is having a problem with his or her medical insurance not being accepted at the hospital, a “tomorrow surgery” with a rejected referral today, or an employee who has just told you that she has been harassed by a coworker)–so do you say to those employees, “yeah . . . hey, I’ll get to that tomorrow morning, promise.”

Okay, we all know that doesn’t fly and for those of you who know you can’t actually do it tomorrow (and are one of those who will think about these issues on your own time), and that means most of us in this profession, this is where too many of these situations can lead to your work- life balance getting thrown off, and burnout is most likely to occur. Aside from seeking the traditional forms of assistance for yourself, you need to start fixing this by trying to simplify your work as much as you can. If the type of person you are doesn’t allow you to “turn off” the 24/7 needs of others, then you need to simplify those parts of your job that have not been allowing you to focus more on the human aspect of the job that you enjoy the most. So, where do you begin?

First, assess how much paper you currently use in your process. Aside from enjoying the freedom of being able to “go green,” is there a process or two that you can bring online? Can you relinquish some of the control and allow the managers and employees in your company to take ownership for some input and entry of process? You can do it! Did you know that there are tools available that are classified as “employee self-service” tools that enable you to streamline some of the more repetitive tasks in your role? For example, instead of calling the HR department with routine inquiries, your employees and managers can be more self-sufficient when they can access information, such as time off, current benefits, and current job details—anytime, anyplace over the Internet or company intranet. These tools can even empower you to dynamically and securely provide on-demand workforce data to executives, managers, and others; all of this can even be done without IT support.

Help yourself the way that you help your employees, managers, and others day in and day out. Check out www.sagehrms.com or call 866-271-6050. Allow Sage to show you really how much can be taken off your plate so you can get the much needed balance back into your life.

 

How was I supposed to know there was a tool out there to help me? The joke was on me.

23 Oct

When Nothing Really is SomethingLet me share another story with you. Once upon a time, I was responsible for handling the entire open enrollment process (while I was the HR person at a previous employer). Really, I was. If you actually know what you are doing (or at least think you have a good handle on the majority of it), are great at process-oriented tasks, pay strict attention to detail, and have the right resources allocated to you to get the job done, it’s a total walk in the park. This sounds easy enough to anyone you tell about how you handle your open enrollment, right? Are you laughing now? Sure you are. I’m laughing too. We all know there a lot of moving parts to this process and so much can go wrong during it but, as we all know, at the end of the process; there is no getting around those open enrollment election forms submitted by the employee. Of course, more process or more employees, means more paper.

You gather and collect your final open enrollment election forms, maybe even keep track of them on a spreadsheet, send it to your benefits broker or insurance carrier, and it’s all a done deal, and everyone has all the benefits they need, right? I’m laughing again; are you? A mistake on a form here; a change from an employee there, wait, was there a form that should have been included but now isn’t? Sure there is. Wait, what happened? Yikes! Does this sound familiar? How manual is your process? Take it from me, mine was a very manual process but, what did I know? Then, there is that aha moment where find out that there are actually tools that can take you away from these manual processes and slide you easily into a streamlined time-saving process that also saves you money. Okay, I found out there is such a process, but way after the fact. I found out so much after the fact that I don’t even handle HR at my current company but now feel compelled to save you time while you may be still struggling to find a better way to handle your open enrollment process.

Sage has two products that can take a lot of the hassle out of your open enrollment process. Sage Benefits Enrollment and Sage Benefits Messenger can totally change the way you feel about handling your open enrollment process. Take the first step and view these two on demand webcasts. You’ll see for yourself how these products can significantly reduce the time you spend dealing with your open enrollment process. And, to give you a personalized frame of reference on this, the voice that narrates these on demand webcasts is mine.

Been there, done that!

22 Oct

Woman Working From HomeI’ll never forget the day I started with my new company (several years ago). My first project was to canvass for new external talent, track candidate skills, coordinate interviews and then onboard the new hires. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? It was for a while. Until my job role quickly expanded into other areas of HR, we started hiring like crazy and as we grew in size, I now needed to formulate processes to support the varying federal and state legislation (based on our new company size). Time out! I knew using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything wasn’t going to cut it any longer. Instead of waiting, I decided to dive right into looking for a HR and recruiting solution that would support the company’s growth, fulfill legislative obligations and keep my sanity in check! I knew I needed to do it quickly but at the same time, didn’t want to act hastily. Since I’ve had the opportunity to use many solutions prior to this role, I knew where I needed to look. Hence, my reason for writing this blog piece.Let me save those of you who either are new to the role or the HR/payroll profession or have not had the opportunity to use any automated HR/payroll systems in your past. There are a couple of products that I can specifically recommend to you to help automate your processes. If you are looking to wean yourself off of using spreadsheets to keep track of candidates and/or processes and you use multiple formulas to calculate and report on things, look into Sage HRMS and Sage HRMS Cyber Recruiter. Right away, these products will help you solve these issues (as well as a myriad of others).

Oh, yeah, getting back to my story. Remember, I was telling you about that first project I was tasked with doing in my new job several years ago? The one where I was canvassing for new external talent, tracking their skills, coordinating all interviews, and then onboarding them as they were hired using a spreadsheet: that story. Well, unfortunately, my computer crashed, and I lost everything I had worked on that first month into my new job. Words can’t accurately describe how I felt at that exact point in time. Let’s just say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience at all!

Don’t wait for something like that to happen to you; visit www.sagehrms.com or call 866-271-6050 and have them show you how they can make your life easier, automate your processes, and keep everything centralized so you can create reports without using formulas and linking spreadsheets.

Need a big reason to get a time and attendance system in place? Read on . . .

13 Oct

The Mistakes of Dealing With MistakesOn 10/8/14, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that involved time that may or may not be compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In this case, the Supreme Court reviewed a decision in which the Ninth Circuit court ruled that employers, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Portal-to-Portal Act, must compensate employees for the time spent in security screenings at the end of their shifts.

I won’t get into all of the details of the case, but this case proves that it is evident. Compliance with the FLSA continues to remain a top challenge for HR/payroll professionals. In a recent article, the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) reported that inquiries related to the FLSA exceed those of all other federal employment statues other than the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Until some of the rules of these acts are rewritten to make them clearer and easier to understand for everyone who has a stake in the process, it would be in any employer’s best interest to institute an automated time and attendance solution to properly capture and report time.

A time and attendance system allows you to collect, analyze, and take immediate control of your employees’ attendance and labor data. They are invaluable for ensuring compliance with labor regulations regarding proof of attendance. Plus, there are auditing functions contained within them to guarantee accuracy and compliance for payroll information.

While the outcome of this case is still pending, securing a great time and attendance system, instituting best practices, and keeping an eye on pending legislation should be at the top of every HR and payroll professional’s list.

Check out www.sagehrms.com today to gain control over time and labor data.

 

Does anyone really care about performance evaluations?

30 Sep

Avoid a Dysfunctional Performance ReviewWhy do manager’s consistently tell human resources that they dread writing and delivering performance evaluations? This is a question that human resource professionals struggle with every time they hear it. Most studies conducted by professional human resource organizations have proven that companies that provide regular feedback to their employees have higher retention rates and see greater improvement in overall performance than those that rely on annual evaluations. So, why do human resource professionals consistently need to prove this fact to their management teams? Why  are managers so fearful?

Perhaps it’s what occurs during the annual performance evaluation meeting with the employee? Let’s look at a typical scenario. The manager delivers the annual feedback; the employee is “surprised” because he or she hasn’t heard any of that feedback all year long and now the employee “challenges” their manager on the evaluation claiming his or her evaluation isn’t “fair.” Aha, there’s the dreaded confrontation associated with the review. Here it is. Face-to-face confrontation. Why would the manager fear this confrontation? Perhaps, it’s the fact that manager is suddenly put into a defensive position? Could it be that the manager failed to provide regular feedback to the employee throughout the year and has no choice but to deal with it now? Is that fair? How would that manager feel if this was done to her? Maybe this has happened to the manager before, and now the manager believes it’s perfectly acceptable to do the same thing to her direct reports? Maybe it’s a new manager who believes he knows what he is doing, but really doesn’t have a clue? Did ego come into play at all? There could be a lot of reasons.

In any case, employees need guidance. They need regular feedback. Whether that feedback is positive or negative, employees need and want to hear it. The manager needs to “manage” and learn to deal with it. How do managers expect to receive positive behavior from their employees without any reinforcement from the manager on the feedback of their behavior? How does an employee know what is expected of him or whether or not he needs to improve upon a certain behavior if he has not been given any direction throughout the year? You can clearly see how these disconnects occur.

Aside from the myriad of legal issues that often arise from continued performance feedback “avoidance,” its helpful (and necessary) for managers to educate themselves on how to deliver feedback. A lot of this is common sense. So, why do many managers feel it’s the responsibility of human resources to educate them on why employee performance feedback is so important? Why do managers tell human resource professionals, “I haven’t received any training on it so I didn’t know I should be doing it”? Why do managers feel they do not have accountability for this aspect of their management function? Like any other skill, performance feedback training needs to be cultivated. Since each and every person and situation is different, it’s impossible for the human resource professional to facilitate definitive training needed to cover every situation. It’s up to human resources to guide and counsel their management teams. What that means is that human resources should be relied upon to guide and counsel management on decisions that affect their people and the overall business. Unless it is a first-time manager, human resources can help to provide the education needed to get the manager up to speed and on the right path. There must be accountability on management’s part to take ownership of their direct reports by providing regular feedback to them, then seek human resource guidance and counsel on issues where the desired outcome of an employee’s performance has not or cannot be achieved through the development plans that the manager has set forth for the employee to follow to get that performance back on track.

Visit www.sagehrms.com to see all of the available solutions to help you manage the total employment lifecycle process.

Stop Talking and Listen For a Change

13 Jan

Positive and Constructive CriticismWhat do you look for in a good candidate?  That’s the magic question.  There is an easy answer.  It’s the candidate who is the best qualified candidate to do the job, right?  Well, yes in that respect but, there are other factors to consider.  Aside from the legal-type considerations, and believe me there are plenty, there is something called behavioral interviewing that you should really consider.

So, what is behavioral interviewing?  Long story short, it’s getting the candidate to talk about their previous (work related) experiences and describe past projects, success stories, failures, reflections and how they may have handled their failures differently with a more favorable outcome.  What does all this mean to the interviewer?  It means you need to SHUSHHHHHHH…listen to the candidate talk.  One of the most interesting things that occur during interviews is that the interviewers talk more than the candidates do.

Stop for a minute and think back to every job you’ve ever interviewed for.  How many times has that happened to you?  My guess is that it’s happened a lot of time throughout your career.  Why does this phenomenon occur?  Well, the easy answer is that most people don’t like long gaps of silence. It falls outside of their conversational comfort zone.  They like to “fill up” the dead air space.  Additionally, listening is not the same as hearing.  You can hear a lot of things but, are you really listening?  Have you really honed the skill of being able to filter out all external stimuli thus being able to focus on only one thing solely?  Most people would probably not admit to being able to do that though.  Let’s face it, we are told continuously by our teachers, peers, mentors and supervisors that being able to multi-task adds great value to our job and works well for meeting overall objectives.  In the interview though, not only could your multi-tasking be mis-interpreted by the candidate as being rude (for example looking at your email, sending a quick text or answering a call), you are also missing out on actually listening to the candidate talk about their experiences.

Bottom line, ask your question.  Hopefully, its open ended and behavioral based.  Then, listen to the candidate’s response.  Process their response, and then ask another probing question to their response.  Do this until you are satisfied that you have a good feel for the fit in matching the candidate’s professional experiences to your company’s mission and where you want that candidate to add the most value for you.

After all, you want to feel extremely comfortable that you know this person will grow to be your star top performer!

How Far Do You Reach in Your Outreach Programs?

6 Jan

Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s all cannon-150x150about the journey, not the destination”?  Sure you have.

If you’ve never heard the term “outreach program”, it’s all about seeking to hire qualified women, minorities and veterans into your open positions.  Mostly, government contractors and others doing business with the Federal Government are required to create Affirmative Action Plans as part of their ongoing recruitment efforts.  As part of those plans, there are some components that deal with outreach.  As part of their compliance efforts, that’s how some companies try to fill positions with qualified candidates from specific sectors within the labor market.  So, how does that saying fit into a company’s outreach program?  It’s all about setting out to do what you say you are going to do with respect to informing segmented groups about your company and “reaching out” to them with your job opportunities.  It’s as simple as that.  If you create and follow a comprehensive plan or program that branches out to these specific sectors and you aren’t successful (through no fault of your own) on attaining your goals it may go a long way in assisting you during an audit by demonstrating to the auditor that you put forth your best effort in trying or at the very least, demonstrate how far you were willing to “reach out” to the various groups in your program.  But, how far do you reach?  That’s what’s up for debate currently in the legislation.

If you earnestly go about creating a solid outreach plan, attend diversity job fairs, volunteer to speak at various diversity group meetings and/or training sessions, partner with your local department of labor office and take the time to meet the reps at your local veteran’s office, you should be on track to a great plan.

For more information on how you can track your progress in support of your goals, check out www.sagehrms.com and see how the Sage HRMS system can generate the reports you need to get the job done!

Small Employer Tip – Create Structure for Compensation and Performance Programs

5 Dec

The Never Ending To Do ListOne of the things usually missing from the small employer repertoire of offerings is the feedback mechanism it provides to its employees. Often you’ll hear a small employer say “we’re too small for that here” or “our employees already know how we feel about them”. That’s not always the case. There is definitely a distinctive difference between what the employer thinks and how the employee feels when it comes to their job performance and/or standing within the organization. Bottom line, performance feedback to your employees (either good or bad) is necessary and wanted by the employees.
If performance appraisal/salary/bonus formalization is something you are undertaking for the first time at your company, the best thing to do is start by obtaining as many salary surveys you can that outline each of the job positions you have within the organization. It’s a good idea to try to have some type of job description for your positions. Small employers sometimes don’t have the time to do this. At the very least, try to obtain at least a couple of paragraphs from managers outlining what each of their employee’s job function is. You may not know firsthand, but they will (and should). You can formalize the job descriptions later (to include more detail and statements about essential job functions) but in order to make the comparison between salary survey results vs. job functions; you’ll need to have some type of a baseline of job functions to work with. This task can be time consuming so be sure to plan ahead as much as you can and offer as much help to your managers as they need from you. Explain how this will ultimately provide a benefit to them and their employees (and the company overall) and again, offer as much help as they need with the task.
Salary surveys aren’t as easy to obtain as many people think they are. Obtaining meaningful salary surveys will take much leg work on the part of the person handling the HR function within the company. Formalized salary surveys obtained from large reputable organizations can be costly; sometimes too costly for the small company to justify the expense. If that is the case for your company, begin your search for some lower cost alternatives. Start your inquiry with Human Resource professional organizations, try to source through your networks, and then work your way through to speaking with your state and local Departments of Labor. At the very least, they will be able to point you in the right direction. Most state Departments of Labor have placed their statistical data online and even drilled down that geographical salary data to the county level where you can make relative comparisons. You can also perform the obligatory internet search yourself; see where that takes you. Once you start on this path, dedicate at least a few days to the cause. It just takes perseverance and the absolute faith that the time you will be spending on this arduous task will lead you to the ultimate path of getting some really good salary surveys to work with. Try to be patient and keep in mind that each step you take will lead you in the right direction and will eventually yield some very good sources for you at some future point in time.
So, now you have your salary surveys in hand. What’s next? Start to draft the feedback form (sometimes referred to as the Performance Appraisal Form) that you think will work for the type of industry you operate within. Be prepared to get a lot of pushback from others on this within your organization. It’s only natural. It’s new; it requires commitment from the Executive team and ultimately effects the entire organization. It may be like hitting a nerve at first. Continue on your path. Prepare your draft and tweak it based on the comments you receive however, if what they are proposing doesn’t make sense or doesn’t sound right to you, it probably isn’t. Remember, your job in HR is to be that voice of reason and to make sure you guide and counsel in the appropriate manner. Explain to those who are pushing back, your reasons for why you believe that it may not work (in the appropriate manner). If pushback persists, you may have to create a formalized flow chart process to explain how you envision that process from start to finish so they can visually see this process through to the end and where the rough spots may be at points somewhere in the middle.
So, now that you have your salary surveys (and hopefully that perfect employee feedback document that’s ultimately finally been approved), you’ll need to know how much money you will be allocating to the performance appraisal and/or bonus pools. Again, this may be a tough one to nail down. Timing is absolutely “key” on this. Know when to approach the Executive with your request. Take a gauge on how this works for your company. It works differently for every company (small or large) so the point here is “it’s all in the timing”. You’ll have to really give this some thought. If it’s poor timing, just know you’ll learn for next year. If it’s good timing, you’ll know how and when to obtain your funds next year. This is a moving target; no one size fits all here. Again, you are an HR person, you’ve learned at this point in your career how and when to time your initiatives. If you’re new to HR, this is another step on that path of learning how and when to time your initiatives.
Next, you will need to create the mechanism of how you’ll structure your salary surveys, performance appraisal program, and bonus pool against some type of salary grading system. This is an extremely important step for the small employer because it begins to set the baseline for your future payroll expense. I know that sounds huge. It is huge!!! Think about this, if you don’t have any salary grading structure in place now, what do you think will happen year after year with those salaries over time? What happens if you can’t afford to give generous increases you had been giving to your employees if you experience sudden growth and need to use funds that were previously allocated to employee increases to that growth? What happens if your business sees a temporary decline with sales? What happens if business conditions suddenly change outside of your control? These issues will almost certainly escalate to a point where you (and your company) will be dealing with it as a negative Associate Relation issue later if you have to put the brakes on providing increases to the employees that had been above average for your industry. Are you getting it now? This point can’t be emphasized enough. It’s a very real story for a lot of small employers. Start to formalize your processes now before you experience your company’s growth and begin to feel those growing pains. This will be one of those processes that you will be glad you started to formalize while you are still a relatively small company.
Another forgotten area; report generation. How do you do that now? What could it look like once you have all of your formalized processes in place? What tools could you use to help you? There are many parts to consider but one of the most important items is to generate reports against some structured input values. Automated reporting is something you will eventually not be able to do without; especially once you have defined the process. Historical reporting will also help you and your Executives make better business decisions. How can you help them perform “what if” scenarios and be able to drill down to the management direct reporting levels? How can you show them how they handled the performance and/or salary/bonus processes the previous year? How can you collectively show the progression of your program once performance ratings have been included? How can you show the financial impact of management decisions that may need to be refined? There are tools available where you’ll be able to do all of this without searching through spreadsheets or Personnel files. You’ll no longer deal with “sorting accidents”, pivot tables, missing papers and or the possibility of providing inaccurate (or too much) information to your management team. You’ll also find that once your process has been systemically integrated, you’ll feel much more confident about report and documentation requests you need to generate for audits that may arise throughout the year (whether internal or external).
Putting a formalized process in place isn’t as hard as your imaging it is. Sage HRMS products can accommodate this need very easily for you. Even if you don’t have your plans in place, their processes and system setup can help to identify and address the needs within your program. There are many other additional internal resources and learning tools available to assist you with whatever process you need within your company (www.sagehrms.com). Check it out!

Elements of a Good Employee Handbook

4 Nov

HR Technology Can Help Maximize Your Return on Employee InvestmentThe employee handbook can be a terrific resource for the employer and the employee. There are several elements that should be contained within that relate to the company’s history/mission, values, policies, procedures and benefits. The handbook is often viewed as a means of protecting the company against discrimination and unfair employment practice claims and will provide an outline of the general expectation that the employer has for its employees.

The handbook is not a policy and procedure book. A policy is a written statement that reflects the employer’s standards and objectives relating to the various employee activities and employment related issues. There is clearly a difference. Using legal counsel will help you craft an employee handbook that is generic enough for the employees to know what is expected of them but, provide enough guidance leading them to where they can go for the actual written policies of the company (which may exist in other department specific documents and/or Standard Operating Procedure guides).

Employers should ensure the handbook is distributed to every employee within the organization (regardless of specific levels or job titles). You should always secure a written acknowledgement of the employees receiving the handbook, thus ensuring that they have read and understood the contents contained within. Once the employer receives the acknowledgment, it should be secured in each employee’s personnel file. This is a very important step. A checklist should be developed and cross-referenced to ensure that every employee’s acknowledgment (complete with signature) is received. Written returned employee handbook acknowledgments should be readily available for you but, completely secured in a location with limited access.

Handbooks should never be construed as an employment agreement; which could affect the employer’s at-will status with the employee. Handbooks should always be reviewed by legal counsel before distribution to the employees. Consult professional legal guidance for clarity in defining the differences between state and federal laws.

What if an Employee Handbook Already Exists at a Company?

If your job now includes responsibility for employee handbooks, all the employer’s policies and procedures should be re-reviewed to ensure they contain all of the provisions that the employer wants contained within as well as ensuring all applicable state and/or federal provisions have been included (or updated to comply with applicable laws). No assumptions should be made. Begin your review from scratch and cross-reference the handbook that already exists. If the policies in the current handbook don’t make sense to you, they more than likely won’t make sense to an employee once re-issued (or may be misunderstood by your current employees). Re-write the policy and provide your draft to legal counsel for review. If a policy doesn’t exist, write one; partner up with the department head to which any policy affects, have them review it first, and then partner in your legal counsel. Prepare as much of the draft as you can as this will save cost. Example: If it’s a policy that supports the payment of Paid Time Off and the Payroll Department within the organization will be the department that supports and ultimately administers the policy on a daily basis, have that department head review it to ensure it clearly conveys the intent of the policy and that it can be administered by that department in the manner in which it is written and intended to be administered. Again, the emphasis will be to ensure that your legal counsel has had the opportunity to review prior to any policy issuance to the employees.

What Else Should Be in There?

Most employee handbooks include a message from the owner of the business and/or CEO/President etc. It’s usually a welcome message and contains something about the company’s mission, purpose or intent. It’s also a great way to set and establish positive associate relations.
Of course, other important statements should be in there as well which may include, EEO, Employment At-will, FMLA, COBRA, EEOC, Anti-discrimination laws, ADA, FLSA etc. There are many other important considerations and legal mandates that could apply in certain states so it would be advantageous for you to have legal counsel review the entire handbook draft prior to issuance. Use all of the sources available to you; inclusive of any professional Human Resources organizations. If you’re not a member of any professional organization, join one that you are comfortable with. Ask other professionals within your field, they will be able to help you select an organization that you can contact for introductory information. Professional Human Resource organizations will be able to assist you with tasks that are common to professionals within your field or industry. They may also be able to provide samples, templates, toolkits or checklists of items that you may have forgotten or recommend topics and/or items you weren’t even aware of because you are new to the field or performing this particular task.

Considerations for Distribution to Employees

Posting to your company intranet is a great way to communicate the handbook however, you need to be sure that there has been a mechanism created to obtain the employee signed written acknowledgement. You’ll also need to consider how you will distribute the handbook to new employees. Create a checklist to cross reference the written acknowledgments you receive. You should receive an acknowledgement from every person (within all levels) of your organization. These should be easily accessible if you need them at a future point in time but, secured with very limited access.

Updating the Handbook in Between Cycles

So, you’ve just finished updating your employee handbook, distributed it to the employees and you have now been made aware of a new major policy—simple, create an addendum. Once you have had legal counsel review it, post the update to your intranet, re-circulate the policy to the employees and be sure to include the addendum in your next major handbook update. Check with your legal counsel to inquire if you need to obtain any written acknowledgments from the employees. Be sure to clearly reference any previous policy that is being updated; clearly conveying that the new policy replaces any other versions that may be in circulation. Make sure the addendum contains a date or current revision schematic (if you use one). It should be extremely clear which policy governs and be easily cross-referenced with the new policy.

Summary

-Partner in with department heads that are responsible for administering a particular policy. Ensure you take their feedback into consideration and have them approve any and all final drafts of policies.
-Review any and all drafts for clarity, consistency and typos.
-Use current revision schematics or calendar dates where necessary.
-Ensure a draft of the final employee handbook is provided to the Executive that you report to so they have the opportunity to ask questions or provide their feedback.
-Obtain signed written employee handbook acknowledgements from every person and level within the organization.
-File all signed written acknowledgements in a secure area; limiting access to only those who will absolutely need it.
-Consult Professional Human Resource Organizations for guidance in preparation or for best practices.
-Always obtain legal review; this is extremely important.

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