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The Top Five Handbook Policies to Include This Year

Last Updated on September 7, 2023 / HR Compliance, HR Strategy

Red employee handbook

HR Question:

We’re in the process of reviewing our handbook for the year and want to make sure that we’re including policies that reflect the talent we’re trying to attract. What are some of the top policies we need to include in our handbook?

HR Answer:

It’s important to review your handbook at least once a year to ensure that your policies are up to date, inclusive, and reflective of the environment in which your organization operates. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies found the need to update their handbook policies to reflect multiple changes that occurred in the nature of their work and surrounding landscape. Some of the top policies that organizations may need to include are:

  • Managing non-exempt time when remote
  • Managing overtime
  • Taking into account the impact of laws on where the employee works (i.e. payroll taxes, meals, breaks)
  • How to handle PTO with remote workers
  • Safety and workers’ compensation if injured while working remotely

Remote Work Policy

Through our Generations at Work Survey, we discovered that 56% of all respondents were looking for a hybrid work situation. In order to meet the needs and desires of potential candidates, this may be an opportunity to do a complete audit of your job descriptions to see which can be remote, partially remote, or if a schedule can be created to allow for a hybrid opportunity. As you create new roles, consider creating roles that can be done entirely remotely in order to open up your talent pool beyond your geographical region.

EEO Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policies make it clear that you are an inclusive and welcoming workplace. These policies identify forms of discrimination, such as against a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or genetic information, that the federal government will not tolerate. Most employers with 15 employees or more will be legally held to these requirements, so it’s important to ensure that your handbook reflects this legal requirement.

Handbooks may call these policies different things, but at the end of the day, these are essential policies to include to ensure an inclusive workplace. Beyond the legal obligation, ensuring that your organization promotes a positive work environment that doesn’t tolerate discrimination is important to weave into the fabric of your organizational culture. It is also a critical component in talent attraction and retention.

Anti-Harassment Policy

Similar to including an EEO policy, it’s important to include an anti-harassment policy to define and maintain a safe environment. Creating a work environment that is physically and emotionally safe for all employees goes beyond detailing what individuals should or should not do. Although it is important to identify unacceptable conduct and behaviors, it is also critical to provide employees with a clear and protected path to raising concerns about their safety or physical/emotional comfort.

Anti-harassment policies clearly outline the definition of harassment, the process for reporting incidents under this umbrella, and the steps that may be taken after reporting the incidents. Additionally, these policies should strictly prohibit any form of retaliation to ensure individuals feel protected and encouraged to bring concerns forward for the betterment of themselves and your workplace.

Employee Referral Policies

In a tight and candidate-driven market, employers are pursuing any and all avenues to find the talent they need to meet business objectives. One way to do so is by implementing an Employee Referral policy to encourage current employees to refer individuals who they think may be a fit for the organization. Utilizing employee referrals can be among the most successful strategies of recruiting culture-aligned, qualified, long-lasting talent for your organization. Referral fees can range from $500 to $30,000 (or more), depending on the industry, the level of the role, and the cost that the organization may expect to spend recruiting candidates through their recruiting team or an outsourced solution.

A successful policy will be sure to detail the referral fees, the process in which employees should refer candidates, and the timeline associated with any potential referral fees or retention bonuses.

Inclusive Policies for Women

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, women left the workforce in droves. As the economy and the workforce landscape continue to recover, women are slowly returning, although not at the rate at which they left.

Between the need for talent and the goal of an inclusive workplace, this is a key opportunity to review your handbook to ensure that there are inclusive policies built in to create a welcoming environment for all individuals, including women. Key policies to include in this case would be:

  • Flexible scheduling (which would be attractive to all candidates from all walks of life)
  • Lactation policies, such as the set up of a lactation room, privacy, duration of accommodations, and more
  • Maternity and/or paternity leave policies
  • Dependent care HSA funds to allow individuals to contribute funds toward daycare costs

For inspiration on how to structure the policy, consider reviewing the Kentucky Pregnant Worker’s Act for guidance.

Thank you to Mary Mitchell, MBA, SPHR, CHRS, and Samantha Kelly for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week. 

As the workplace landscape continues to evolve, employee handbooks and policies must evolve with it. Strategic HR can help you update and revise your handbook to ensure that it is compliant and reflects the environment your organization operates within. To learn more, request a handbook consultation today.