Your small business has a carefully drafted employee handbook. Are your employees actually reading it? A handbook is only helpful if your employees actually read and understand the policies inside. I recall a former employer of mine actually placing humorous tidbits inside its handbook – in this case, it was allowing employees to take a day off for the made-up holiday of Festivus – as a way of making sure employees actually read the handbook in its entirety. There are other less drastic measures you can take, however, to make sure your employees read and understand your policies.
- Have your employees sign a handbook acknowledgement. While this does not guarantee that your employees will read the handbook in its entirety, it will be more difficult for an employee who has signed an acknowledgement to later claim that he or she does not understand company policies. If you distribute your handbook electronically, you may be able to design a mechanism making sure employees look at each page before signing the acknowledgement.
- Have regular meetings to discuss company policies. Annual or semi-annual “all-team” meetings to discuss important company policies can be a good introduction for new employees and a good refresher for more seasoned workers. Solicit feedback and constructive criticism about company policies.
- Provide re-training when policies are broken. If an employee violates a disciplinary rule, for example, it is helpful to provide an additional copy of the relevant policy along with the actual disciplinary write-up. This reiterates the importance of following company policies, and provides a rationale for imposing a more severe form of discipline the next time the policy is broken.
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