Why You Need an Employee Handbook Instead of a Template

One of the most important elements in any business is the employee handbook. And many do not realize how important it really is - until they need it. An employee handbook is the cornerstone of everything your business stands for. It showcases the rules and regulations, workplace policies, federal and state labor laws, and illustrates a plethora of important features such as pregnancy accommodations, anti-discrimination/harassment policies, and protected sick leave.

Employee Handbook importance

The Importance of an Employee Handbook

Whether you call it a company manual, a staff manual, or a company field guide, an employee handbook is the go-to Bible of your company. It is the first thing that new employees receive on their first day of work and gives them all the information they need to excel at their job. Not to mention, the rules and expectations of them. They increase a new employee's ability to do their job from the start and make them more equipped in knowing everything there is to know about the company and its regulations.

What Content Is in an Employee Handbook?

For obvious reasons, each dental, optometrist, or medical employee handbook differs. Yet, certain elements found in most employee handbooks are universal components. These include:

  • The company's mission statement, values, and company culture
  • Company policies on non-discrimination, sick days, and vacation time
  • Obligations and rights in reference to employment as well as legal and Human Resources rights and obligations
  • What to expect from the employee and employee relationships, as well as what the employee can expect from the company

But why exactly are these needed? We sum it up with one simple word - consistency. An employee handbook outlines specific areas and allows the company to reference that material. It is there so employees always know what the rules are and if there is a conflict that comes up, you can find the relevant policy easily. For example, one employee has an issue with another over harassment claims. Your employee handbook should always have a section that addresses these types of issues so that if there is an issue, the protocol is clearly stated.  Everyone knows what will happen and there are no "Well, how was I to know?" comments.

And keep in mind your employee handbook protects you. Let's say that an employee wants to file a lawsuit. Most lawyers will want to know about an employee handbook. Those companies that do not have one open themselves up to litigation. Why? Because it is indicative of potential negligence in other aspects of the business. For example, some policies can be followed to prove the reason for termination such as no calls, no shows, prohibited conduct, and more. 

When Should You Create One?

There are no specific rules on when you must create an employee handbook. Yet, if your business has more than a few employees, it becomes something your company needs. There are no laws stating you must have one but take a look at the many reasons they are imperative:

  • Useful in mitigating conflict among employees and defining prohibited conduct
  • Helps new hires feel that they know what your expectations is of them and what they can expect from the company
  • Informs new hires about all the company policies on things important to them such as vacation time, holidays and pay schedules
  • It states your company mission statement and gives background on the company for the employee to learn
  • It showcases attendance policies, dress codes, and depending on your individual needs - even parking recommendations

The point is that the employee handbook is the first piece of information a new hire receives during onboarding and it lets them learn all the things they would normally have to ask about. There are no later conflicts on an employee saying they weren't told something or that they didn't know. This not only helps your company fight potential lawsuits, but there is often information an employee is afraid to ask or may not realize is a rule. Instead of not knowing, it's right there for them to see and even answers questions they may not have thought of but need the answer to in the future.

Why You Need an Employee Handbook Instead of a Template

While it might save time to have an employee handbook template to go by, there are many reasons why this is not the answer to your needs. The first reason is a custom handbook will be crafted to meet not only federal policies, but also your specific state and even city laws, thus protecting your practice from unknown risk. The main thing is that each company is unique. Your company has one individual way of doing things that is not like the rest and your employee handbook needs to reflect that.

For example, of course your mission statement or dress code is going to be different from another company unrelated to your industry. Yet, a customized employee handbook allows you to showcase distinct changes that are important to your business. A good example of a customized new hire orientation for employees is from Netflix.

You'll notice that they have specific values that they require to work at their company. These aren't just the usual honesty and integrity requirements. Instead, they go deeper into specific requirements. For instance, under the "honesty" section they state the following:

  • You are known for candor and directness
  • You are non‐political when you disagree with others
  • You only say things about fellow employees you will say to their face
  • You are quick to admit mistakes

Under that is a section with mention of nine values that they want employees to embody. For the "judgment" section they have the following:

  • You make wise decisions (people, technical, business, and creative) despite ambiguity
  • You identify root causes, and get beyond treating symptoms
  • You think strategically, and can articulate what you are, and are not, trying to do
  • You smartly separate what must be done well now, and what can be improved later

Another area is ingenious where they subtly mention a few of the things they offer yet do it in a different way from the norm.

Great Workplace is Stunning Colleagues Great workplace is not day‐care, espresso, health benefits, sushi lunches, nice offices, or big compensation, and we only do those that are efficient at attracting stunning colleagues

The point is, a customized employee handbook has all the elements to showcase your company in the way that leaves no question unanswered. It allows you to create it in a way that is warm and inviting - a way that makes the new employee want to read it instead of tossing it aside like happens so often.

Think of your handbook as the Holy Grail of your business and remember, there is never a one-size-fits-all method. What we do at HR for Health is take your ideas and needs and create a customized employee handbook done by HR professionals. We create an employee handbook customized to your specialty - whether that be dental, optometry, or other medical field, state regulations and individual practice culture. We set standards for performance and protect against human resources related legal claims.

Your customized employee handbook includes:

  • Developed by employment attorneys and HR specialists
  • Policies and HR best practices tailored to your practice's goals and culture
  • Federal AND state-compliant policies tailored to the size and specific location of your practice
  • Annual updates and revisions included at no extra charge

And keep in mind that you can make your handbook easy to read and understand. New hires will retain some of that information. And you now have an employee that not only knows more about the company and their job, but they also know your expectations of them and how they are to do things at their new job.

We don't expect you to have an idea of how to write an employee handbook from start to finish. That's where we come in. All you have to do is schedule a call so we can tell you more about what we do and how we do it. We take the heavy load and do all the lifting when it comes to an employee handbook. Don't go with a template when you can have a customized version that reflects your company, not a one-size fits all approach.



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.