Small Business Employee Handbooks rank right up there with Business Plans; you know you “should” have them, but there are about 1,001 other things you’d rather be working on. All too often, an owner gets around to creating a Small Business Employee Handbook after an incident. I’d rather just cover the legal and recommended necessities simply and then address the critical piece: culture and fit.
The basic required elements can be found at the Small Business Administration’s site: http://www.sba.gov/content/employee-handbooks and there is even a link to a free template. Two words of caution on the template:
- It is not a SBA document as they claim and it contains links to a ‘for profit’ enterprise who wants to sell you something;
- It is lengthy, and may be more than you need. If the length could potentially scare you off, avoid the template!
Also, be sure to check if there are State requirements that you need to address.
Once you have the legal requirements covered, the rest of your employee handbook is uniquely yours. Upon reading your handbook, anyone should have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to work at your business – the “feel” of your business. The best place to start is with your values – either personally, if you are a very small business, or the company’s values. This is not a poster or a plaque with 4 or 5 words on it; these are those qualities that define you. What must you, your customers and vendors, see and hear if your values are present? What qualities, if missing, draw your attention to them?
Your values serve as the backdrop for your small business employee handbook; the next step in creating your handbook is telling employees what it’s like to work in your business, what your expectations are, and how you handle different situations. Address as many subjects that you can up front and you prevent problems in the future. Consider these items: do they earn “comp” time? What is your philosophy about client complaints? Does the customer really come first? Feel free to give examples that speak to your desired customer interactions.
A well-thought out small business employee handbook can prevent nasty legal situations. More commonly, it will create an environment of employee actions in line with your values, build trust, and easier staff management for you.
If you would like help defining your company’s values or creating your small business employee handbook, schedule a free 20-minute consult with me.
– Helen Dutton, Business Coach