Write It Down: A Note about Employee Handbooks

April 8, 2022 | Solutions for Iowa's Evolving Workforce Jackson G. O’Brien, Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm, jackson.obrien@brownwinick.com

As your workforce evolves, your documentation should keep up! Growing businesses often develop informal policies and practices that never get written down or aggregated into one document. It’s easy to see why. A few people at the start agree on setting certain rules, and those rules are communicated orally to people joining the business in its early stages. But as more and more employees are added, communication of the policy often gets muddled, and the policy may change over time to address new situations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t occur to many employers to formally write down policies and practices until there’s a problem.

We recommend that employers draft an employee handbook that is reviewed and updated annually. A good handbook should look to the past and address questions that have come up before. It should also look to the future and establish parameters for where the business is going. Employers should also make sure that employees are notified of any policy changes, and that their receipt of these changes is documented.

Taking the time to set up and regularly review your business’s policies may seem like a chore, but it pays dividends. These steps will give your business focus and direction and allow you to confidently respond to workforce issues. Your goal should be to either have a well-documented policy for every foreseeable situation or the ability to quickly pivot and get a policy put in place. In our experience, these measures will help your workforce continue to grow!