THE SHOP

July '20

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6 THE SHOP JULY 2020 sion, states expectations and outlines ben- efits. And it sets the tone for a cooperative we culture." Once aboard, the new employee should receive a handbook as part of a thoughtful orientation. "The new employee should be given a tour of departments and be introduced to their managers," says Avdoian. "This com- municates the idea that each individual is part of a larger organization and is equally important to the success of the company." There's one more benefit of a well-written handbook: reduced legal risk. Suppose, for example, one of your customers is harmed by an employee impaired by alcohol or drugs. Having a record of an anti-drug policy can help mitigate liability. "When you get sued, the first question an attorney will ask is, 'Did you have a policy covering this?'" says Bob Gregg, co-chair of the employment practice law group at Boardman and Clark LLC, Madison, Wis- consin (boardmanclark.com). At smaller businesses, where supervisors have limited time to communicate all the vital information employees need, hand- books can help fill the gaps. At the same time, they project a valuable business image. "Like a website, an employee handbook is an expected part of today's business operation," says Avdoian. "It tells everyone you are serious about your organization." COVER THESE TOPICS There is no one-size-fits-all template for employee handbooks. Every orga- nization has its own requirements, and only your attorney can tell you what you should include (and omit) to be in legal compliance. Nevertheless, there are some topics common to many handbooks. (For a run- down, see the sidebar, "What Goes in the Employee Handbook?") Here are some remarks about the more sensitive topics: Email Even if allowed to use personal devices for business purposes, employees have no right to privacy regarding any business emails that Business By the Book Why employee handbooks are crucial to company success. By Phillip M. Perry W hat commonly neglected busi- ness tool can help your work- place run more smoothly, orient new employees quickly, and reduce your risk of costly legal battles? If you guessed "the employee handbook," you're right. Too often given short shrift, this vital document can play an important role by communicating workplace policies and employee responsibilities. The result can be a more productive organization and a more profitable business. "Employee handbooks are extremely important for businesses of all sizes," says James W. Potts, J.D., chief executive officer of the Pasadena, California-based human resources consulting firm of Potts and Associates (pottsandassociates. com). "They can help everyone work more efficiently." The same handbooks that help veteran workers understand your business policies can be especially valuable for recruits. "Giving your handbook to selected applicants can be beneficial in landing the best employees," says Richard Avdoian, an employee development consultant in metropolitan St. Louis. (midwestbusinessinstitute.com). "Many times, the ideal candidate has multiple offers and your handbook can tip the bal- ance in your favor by communicating the benefits of joining your team." The employee handbook, along with the job description, can set the framework for inducting new people into your business, adds Avdoian. "It communicates the company's mis- Employee handbooks can play a vital role by communicating workplace policies and employee responsibilities.

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