Saturday, April 24, 2010

Employee Handbooks - Do You Have One?

I created quite a stir in ASTRALand last week. Someone posted the question on the listserve about employee handbooks. In my reply I offered to send a copy of our handbook and training checklist to anyone who wanted it. In short order I had 45 requests for copies of our handbook.

Apparently, handbooks are a hot topic in the independent toy world.

Do you have one for your employees?

If you don't, the good news is that they aren't as complicated as you think. The hardest part is getting started. Here's what to do...

Write your manual on your computer.
Do a little at a time.
Update it every time you hire someone new or notice something you missed.
Give everyone a new copy of any section that changes (keeps it relevant).

It doesn't have to be a complete and polished document on day one. It can be a work in progress.

Here are some of the things you should include:
  • Employment Policies - the basics of employment like Dress Codes, Vacation, Holiday & Sick Pay, Maternity Leave, Jury Duty, Payroll, Safety Policies, Emergency Procedures, Terminations, etc. (Yeah, it seems like a lot, but do it one heading at a time and it won't take long.)
  • Store Procedures - this is where you list all the services you offer and the how's & why's of each service
  • Special Services - If you have certain services that require extra explanation, make a separate section for each, such as Cash Registers, Layaways, etc.
  • Training & Evaluation - Spell out how you will train and evaluate your employees.
  • Forms & Paperwork - If you have special paperwork or forms that need to be filled out, show how to do it properly.
There are many reasons to have a handbook like this.
  • Having written policies protects you when terminating someone for violating a policy
  • The handbook becomes an extra tool for training new employees. Not everyone learns the same way.
  • Putting your policies in writing forces you to evaluate why and how you do them, which helps you make your services better
Once you get it written, have your attorney look it over to make sure you aren't doing anything blatantly illegal. And make sure you look it over every few months to see if anything has changed.

Employee handbooks are valuable to any business whether you have one or one hundred employees. Dust yours off and see if it has what it needs to be effective for you. And if you don't have a handbook, send me an email and I'll send you back what I do. You can use it as a template or reminder of which topics to include.

-Phil

PS I also sprinkle in a full dose of our store philosophies including our Character Diamond, and a section of difficult situations we encounter regularly and how to deal with them.

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