Depending on the size of your business and how long you have been in operation, you may or may not have an employee handbook. No matter what your company size, implementing a handbook is a good business practice if you don’t already have one. It outlines the policies and procedures of an organization. It outlines the expectations to your employees and describes what they can expect from your business.

Legal Protection

A handbook offers protection against legal claims. Describing all policies in detail and outlining the employer/employee relationship will be key in using a handbook as legal protection. For instance, if an employee is terminated and takes you to court, outlining if employment is considered at will in the handbook will be important to defend your case.

Information in a Handbook

An employee handbook should clearly describe the employer’s policies. This provides the expectations to all employees and provides consistent use of policies. One critical policy that should be included in the handbook is who and employee goes to if they have a problem. This demonstrates that you would like to see a resolution for the employee before bringing in someone from the outside.

Topics that should be addressed in your handbook includes:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
  • Employee Benefits
  • Paid Time Off such as vacation, personal days, sick leave
  • Unpaid Leaves of Absence
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Jury Duty and Military Leave
  • Work Hours
  • The Introductory or Probationary Period
  • Required Language about Pay Deductions
  • Email and Internet Usage
  • Dress Code and Professionalism

Having policies in your handbook is not only a benefit for the employees but also for your supervisors. It acts as a guide in handling employee questions and situations. Some organizations create a management handbook as well.

Other Uses

Setting the tone for the culture is an important aspect of an employee handbook. Include a welcome statement describing the company’s history and how employees contribute to business success is beneficial. Many companies will also include their mission and vision statements.

In more recent years, employee handbooks are being used an employee onboarding tool. Companies defining their employment brand, often bring that look and feel to a handbook. Long gone are the days of plain text on blank paper. Employers are now using graphics, diagrams and digital tools to explain complicated procedures and add interest for the reader. It acts as a retention tool for new employees reading the handbook for the first time.

Whatever style and format you use for your handbook, make it unique for your organization and don’t let it collect dust. Review it periodically and make it a living document meant be changed as needed.

It happens to everyone. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. Some leaders and managers are great at their jobs, but stink at interviewing for key talent. As a candidate, an unskilled interviewer can set you up for a disadvantage if you are not prepared for it.

Handling Awkwardness

Some interviewers think of questions as it comes to them. Or they have not thoroughly read through your documents in advance so they are asking questions you feel they should know. Some are terrible at small talk or trying to make the candidate feel comfortable.

In these situations, always be courteous and polite. Ask the interviewer some questions about the job and company. When appropriate, follow up on how you can perform the task or describe relevant past experience you had that could help the company.

I always coach clients that silence is ok because thoughts have to be collected or maybe notes need to be made. However, there is a limit to silence when it just starts feeling uncomfortable. In this situation, practice your approachability. Smile and expand on any answers you may have given before. You can also ask if they would like more examples when you have completed a certain task. Don’t appear to be bored or frustrated.

Answering Questions Not Asked

Sometimes the interviewer does not ask the right questions to showcase your skills. If that’s the case, be prepared to add a little extra information about your skill set into each answer.

Another great idea is to research the position in advance and ask a question directly related to the position description that you can give a great answer to. For example, say something along the lines of, “I noticed in the posted job description, you want someone with experience with specific programs. Tell me how those are used within the company.” When the interviewer is finished, then inform them about the experience you had with that program and how you utilized it. Tell the interviewer that the more understood their needs for the position, the more you feel that position is for you.

You don’t always get the chance to put your best foot forward in these situations before you leave. If that happens, follow up with a phone call or an email. You may inform them that after reflecting on the position more, you felt it was beneficial that they knew a specific piece of information about you when selecting the right candidate for the role. Make sure your closing comments reflect you are the best candidate.