Employee handbooks are more than a collection of policies and procedures. When developed and socialized properly, they can reduce risk and increase employee engagement.
The primary goal of employee handbooks is to outline safety procedures, review relevant local, state, and federal regulations, and discuss policies specific to your practice. Publishing this information and sharing it with team members ensures they understand your expectations. It also increases management’s ability to apply policies fairly and consistently - a critical factor in promoting high levels of employee engagement.
Collaborate with Your Team
Some policies and procedures are employee handbook must-haves. Examples include an overview of your practice’s position on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, along with information on privacy policies and procedures. It’s also wise to include details on compensation, benefits, and paid time off, as well as how team members can apply for extended time away from work when needed.
Once you have identified the essentials, invite your team to participate in developing other sections. What do they consider important? Where would it be helpful to have more clarity? Playing a part in designing the handbook produces a sense of ownership, which is helpful in socializing the handbook and increasing overall employee engagement.
When your employee handbook is complete, develop a rollout plan that includes everyone in your practice. Make it a point to call out any significant changes to existing policies and procedures, such as a new attendance policy, and leave room for discussion of the impact these changes will have on daily work activities.
Each employee should come away with a clear understanding of the information contained in the handbook, as well as their role in making the workplace safe and comfortable for themselves and their colleagues.
Most employers are moving away from paper-based policies and procedures. Digital publication reduces paper waste, and it allows for easier edits and updates. If you choose digital publication, send electronic copies with a timestamp and electronic signature to confirm receipt.
If you choose traditional paper-based handbooks, include a signature form that acknowledges recipients reviewed the information in the handbook. Set a deadline for return of the forms, whether they are digital or paper-based, so you have the opportunity to follow up with team members who overlooked or forgot to review the handbook.
Ensure that team members know where to find the most up-to-date version of the employee handbook. Many practices; whether they be dental, optometry, or medical; make it easy to access the handbook through intranets, file-sharing platforms, and/or employee portals.
Correct, Update, and Adapt
As you know, the only constant in the healthcare industry is change. Existing regulations are retired or overturned, and new ones take their place. Policies that were effective when you had a small team are no longer practical as you grow and expand. Issues and events that were never a part of your day-to-day operations suddenly take center stage.
Publishing and communicating your employee handbook isn’t intended to be a one-time event. Treat the handbook as a living document that is regularly reviewed and revised to reflect changes in the external and internal environment. When changes are made, ensure you have a solid communication plan so that your team is aware.
Employee handbooks are more than a list of policies and procedures. They offer an opportunity to bring your team together by clarifying your responsibilities to them and their responsibilities to you, to your patients, and to each other. Handbooks reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings that would otherwise lead to conflict, and they ensure that each team member is treated in a fair and consistent manner. That benefits your practice by reducing risk and increasing overall employee engagement.
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Learn more about developing and implementing an effective employee handbook with the experts at HR for Health. Contact us by phone at 877-779-4747 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org today.
HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices.
Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services