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Does your company handbook help you or hurt you?

*Editor's Note: Susan Jones is the president of JB Consulting, a human resources firm located in Central Iowa. Susan has more than 20 years of human resources experience in the industries of insurance, healthcare, accounting, retail and other small business. She is the newest addition to IowaBiz.

Most businesses are under the impression that because they have a handbook which covers the basics, they are covered in all situations. A correct handbook can be a great asset and tool for a business. However, if your business has changed anything -- from adding departments to benefits -- within a year, you need to update your handbook. Also, if you do not have someone who pays attention to new laws and legislation regarding employees, your handbook can get you into some serious trouble.

When putting a successful handbook together, one must be able to look at it from different perspectives. Each employee will read that handbook from their perspective and their situation. Not only does the owner need to put in the basic rules of hours, payroll, benefits, what to do in case of conflict and so on; in today’s society new issues need to be addressed, such as social media. 

A handbook can also be a great way to communicate information to employees. It can include where, how and why the business was started, and by whom. It can also include what is expected of each employee in and outside of work. For a smaller firm in a small town, how someone is perceived outside of work can influence how the public sees the entire firm. Some forward thinking companies also require some kind of volunteer or community service. 

One important thing to remember when putting an effective handbook together is that whatever is in there, you as the employer are expected to abide by. The rules you are willing to bend for your best employee are the rules you need to be willing to bend for your worst employee.

-Susan Jones, JB Consulting
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