As an online business owner, you’re more dedicated, diligent and passionate about your work than just about anybody else. Most likely, you have a pretty grueling work schedule.
If you’re like most small business owners, you need an extra set of hands. However, the thought of bringing on new employees can seem daunting.
In our experience at The Bottom Line, CPA, the only thing harder for an eCommerce business owner than deciding to hire employees, is putting together a new hire onboarding process. This process includes an employee handbook.
The Benefits of an Employee Handbook
Employee handbooks are crucial assets to any business because they serve as a documented guide to your company’s policies and practices. Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t realize that they need an employee handbook until it's too late.
For example, something negative occurs with your employee and you find yourself saying,
“Geez, it would have been great if they had read and signed off on these policies…”
Here’s the reality: even if your eCommerce business has only one or two employees, it's high time to start putting all your company guidelines in one place.
Creating a handbook doesn’t mean setting your business in stone. Your business can change its employee handbook numerous times, as often as your company’s practices and policies do.
An employee handbook serves as documentation of your procedures and practices (another key factor in your business’ health). Moreover, it sends a strong message to anyone you hire about your company’s core values.
Employee Handbook = Protection
Employee handbooks help protect your business by consolidating all the legal policies that employees need to be aware of or adhere to. These include laws about labor, discrimination, and sexual harassment.
When new employees are hired, they are immediately informed about what you expect of them, and what they should expect from you.
By having new employees sign a waiver after reading the handbook, they are certifying their agreement to abide by those expectations. They are also acknowledging the consequences around certain prohibited behaviors, building another level of legal protection.
Employee Handbook = Profit
An employee handbook doesn’t just protect your business. It also helps you grow a strong team, build profit, and guide your business' growth in a direction you want.
Employee handbooks make quick work of internal conflict (which, let’s face it, happens even in the best companies). When issues arise, everyone can refer to the employee handbook for how they are expected to address the issue and interact with each other in finding a solution.
Moreover, an employee handbook is invaluable when your small business’ growth starts to take off. As an owner, you might be able to manage a handful of employees, but the bigger your business gets, the more you’re going to want to delegate.
Having a system is essential, but communicating that system in a way that’s…well, systematized…is just as important. An employee handbook empowers you to assign responsibility to individuals and even create teams who can self-direct.
What Should Your Employee Handbook Include?
Here are just a few issues that your employee handbook should include:
- Policies such as employee benefits, paid time off, and health coverage plans
- Legal boundaries around labor and time, discrimination, and sexual harassment
- An outline of your company’s standardized operating procedures
- A summary of your company’s systems and tools, and how they are to be used
- Expectations around internal and external communication, especially when it comes to sensitive data and customer information
The linchpin to success with an employee handbook is making sure your employees have acknowledged what’s in it. That’s why every employee handbook should include a waiver at the end, which employees sign to indicate that they fully understand and agree to what they’ve read.
If you feel like creating an employee handbook is a daunting task, don’t worry. There are a ton of website resources to help get you started.
Gusto, our payroll provider of choice, offers many resources on their blog, including this freebie:
Another resource we utilize here at The Bottom Line, CPA is the HR Support Portal through Employ and Relate.
For under $40/month, you have a dedicated HR Support team with resources galore including a Professional Employee Handbook builder!
You can learn more by visiting HERE.
NOTE: Using the link above will make the special introduction price of $39.99 a month valid for the LIFETIME of your subscription instead of just the first month. This is a special offer that Employ and Relate has gifted our community with.
It helps to also check out your local state business or government websites for any state-specific rules that ought to be included in your employee handbook.
Lastly, remember to ask the advice of other entrepreneurs in your network. You aren't the first business owner to blaze this trail, so let other people help guide the way with insights they’ve acquired.
The Bottom Line
Having an employee handbook is an essential addition to your new hire onboarding process. Keep in mind that your people are your business’s most important asset. Catering to your employees through a clear-cut handbook should be your priority as a leader.