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Employee Handbook Update: What NOT to include

The employee handbook is like your company’s personal scripture that helps your current and future employees understand your company’s values, culture and policies. It is, therefore, important that you keep this piece of living document aligned with what you want to accomplish as an organization.

When reviewing and updating an employee handbook, there are plenty of suggestions you can follow on what should be addressed and mentioned. But are you aware of what to revise, exclude or not to add to your employee handbook? Sometimes missing out on even a small detail can give way to “costly” pitfalls or put you in a bad light in the eyes of your employees.

Double-check your employee handbook to make sure that you haven’t included any of these statements:

Confidentiality is “guaranteed”

The topic of confidentiality is often mentioned in the context of employee protection policy, where a disclosure can possibly put an employee in an uncomfortable position. While it certainly deserves a mention, it isn’t appropriate to guarantee confidentiality, since in some cases it can be difficult to stop the information from leaking through.

On social media? You’re being watched!

Employees will always have complaints with their employers. Some might even berate your company to their friends and followers on social media. Let’s be honest, no one likes negative PR. But you should be very careful when setting up controls to prevent it. Especially, when it comes to treading the waters of social media privacy, you simply can’t stop your employees from speaking out their work frustrations to others. The National Labor Relations Act stands you’re your employees in such cases, and you could be inviting a lawsuit if you go all “Big Brother” with your social media usage policy.

Permanent employment

Never ever mention the word “permanent” when discussing employment positions in the handbook. It tends to create an expectation that employment is guaranteed and weakens the doctrine of “at-will” employment. Use terms such as “regular” if you want to describe your staff members who aren’t serving the probation period.

There’s a lot to consider when planning or updating an employee handbook. When you do it the right way, the book will serve as a valuable tool for your employees for years to come.

About HR Business Partners

HR Business Partners is a leading human resource consulting firm, serving the Twin Cities Metro area since 2003. The company specializes in recruiting, employee benefits programs, employee performance management, and HR policy making. For more information, call 763-245-8835 or fill out this contact form.