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Small Biz Matters – a half hour program each week where you can work

ON your business rather than IN it.

 The Importance of Staff Manuals

  with Alexi from Boyd Office Management Services

HR is a headcase for most businesses, and this is why they avoid it and never get around to the ultimate form of outsourcing – hiring their first employee. But with the not-so-new rules about the requirement to pay super to contractors (yes, you heard right) sometimes you might as well take the plunge and find the “right person for the job”

Now we’re not even going to TRY to take you through the minefield of the dreaded “interview process” (we’ll save that for a later week when we have an actual real life HR expert in here) but rather implementing a solid Staff manual which is tailored to your business

Part 1 – Why is a staff manual so important?

  • Remembering this is not a legal document but it does show due diligence in you as the employer ensuring the employee understands what you expect from them not only in their role but also in the culture of your workplace.
  • We all know how poisonous a bad employee can be, not only because they are time wasters, not bringing business in or just plain dangerous, but also because they can change the culture of the workplace. And that’s where the section on bullying, anti discrimination and conflict of interests come in. Also, you’re showing fairness as an employee by outlining the grievance policy and how you’ll handle issues as they arise, so it does work for the employee too.
  • However the main reason you have one is to cover yourself. If they are late all the time, well, you covered that in staff expectations regarding punctuality. If they’re poorly dressed, well you covered that in the dress code. If they’re just mean, well you covered that in anti-bullying. And if they’re evil and steal from you, well guess what, you covered that aspect too.
  • It’s really just another plate of armour when it all goes wrong with an employee. This document is not for your wonderful staff who have been loyal, hardworking and with you for years; this document is for the pain in the neck who is coming…. But you need to explain to everyone that whether they’re new or existing employees they need to sign it too.

 Part 2 – What should be included?

  • A couple of pages explaining your company ethos, such as a mission statement just so the employee knows what you’re all about – this can just come from your website and can be really very brief – a couple of sentences is fine.
  • Also include a really brief description of the services you provide. It gives new employees a good overview of what you do as a WHOLE business since they may only be one small part of that.
  • The section on engagement covers all the specifics like leave policies, hours of operation, absences, training, alcohol & drugs policy, probation periods etc. Some of these will have been covered by your employment agreement so again this is just reinforcing these.
  • These policies may seem wordy but are all pretty important: Code of conduct (for the idiots who are rude to other staff, or worse still, your clients), the Internet & Email policy (for the idiots out there who use work emails to send rude and lewd pics) Workplace Health & Safety (very important and WAY too many times completely overlooked), the Anti-Bullying policy (we’ve all worked with one of those), The Grievance policy (so everyone is treated fairly), Intellectual property (for the person who steals your ideas), and the all important sign off page (for the person who just steals and you need to take this all the way with)
  • That back page is the most important page and you MUST make sure everyone signs that page and you have that page filed away in their employment file.
  • But most of all making sure everyone reads, can access anytime and understands this manual so both staff and employers are on the same page and everyone is treated equally.

Part 3 – OK, I’ve got a manual now, how do I use it effectively?

  • The first thing is it needs to work in conjunction with your employment agreement. Whether that’s for an employee or contractor (you can adapt employment agreements to be contractor agreements) you should include a line in your employment agreement which states “The company Staff Manual and Induction Procedures documents outline policies, procedures and staff expectations. All staff who sign this agreement and therefore expected to adhere to the policies and procedures outlined in the Staff Manual and Induction Procedure document. The company reserves the right to change these policies at any time. “ Now what that basically means is that …
  • You must be strict with your induction procedure and get your new staff member (employee or contractor) to sign that back page and keep that signed back page of the document. This manual needs to be with them the moment they start Think about the documents you should be supplying to a new employee and make this one of them.
  • As the employer you also need to adhere to the policies too. If in the staff manual you stated you would handle issues/problems a certain way then you should do so.
  • I’d like to quote a dear friend of mine and this message is for all of you out there who think this is completely a waste of time, money and resources and believe your business will be hugely successful; with or without a staff manual….. just try putting “Your Honour” after each of the following sentences and it speaks volumes:
    • I had no idea John was behaving that way online in the office…
    • I coudn’t believe Bob was treating the female employees in that way…
    • I didn’t realise my niece Christine didn’t know how to use that piece of equipment safely…
  • And remember the big golden rule: You can change this document at any time! You’ve stated you have that right in their employment agreement and you should exercise that right. BUT remember you must communicate the changes to staff – just email them a PDF of the document (be kind to the environment, there is no need for all to have hard copies) and then get them to sign & date the final page again and pop it into their employment folder. It’s all about solidifying your processes.