The Employee Handbook- Is There an Update Needed?

Sections of this topic

    So what do you say when an employee asks, “What’s the policy regarding [insert any random employee concern here]? If the answer starts with, “Well, the employee handbook says […], but we usually just do it this way. Then you may be in trouble. Or, have you ever given the answer that you believed to be correct just to have the employee state, “Well, the handbook says I am entitled to […].” And as soon as it is out of their mouth, you say, “Well, that is not how we do things.” Or, instead of saying a word, you pull out the handbook and frantically search to find the source of their comment certain that you are going to prove them wrong. If any of the above scenarios sound familiar to you, your handbook or your handbook compliance may need a tune-up.

    Having an accurate, up-to-date handbook has many advantages in the workplace. It provides employees and supervisors with guidance on how to handle situations as they arise. However, compliance with the policies contained consistently across the organization can be even more important to mitigate risk to the organization. And while mitigation of risk shouldn’t be the only priority of HR professionals, it is a necessary part of the job. And even if you are not concerned with risk mitigation, just having consistent compliance with policies provides a better workplace for employees. They like knowing what is expected and what consequences will occur for not meeting those expectations.

    Below is a list of things to consider when creating, updating, and communicating your employee handbook or Standard Operating Procedures. What can you add to the list?

    1. Have it reviewed by an attorney.
    2. Review it at regular intervals to ensure policies are current and up to date.
    3. Have a plan in place to address updates to policies. How will the updates be communicated to the organization?
    4. Ensure the communication of all policies to everyone in the organization.
    5. Provide training to supervisors and company leaders on the importance of consistently following all policies.
    6. Keep a log of all updates and changes to all policies.
    7. Don’t lock yourself into consequences you don’t want to enforce. Doing so, will encourage non-compliance and get you into trouble.

    For more resources, See the Human Resources library.

    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to or visit Follow me on Twitter @Sherimaz.