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The Importance of a Human Resources Handbook

Whether you are a newly promoted, an experienced business owner, or a human resources professional, knowing how to deal with a variety of HR issues is critical to your success as well as your business.

Employee Handbook vs. Human Resources Handbook

These are often confused with one another, yet there is a significant difference.  Your employee handbook is essentially the “what” of your company culture and the human resources handbook is the “how”. 

In other words, the employee handbook’s goal is to communicate company policies, set expectations for employees, reduce potential liability, and give new employees a solid start with your company.

A human resources handbook, or manual, is written for the HR department, leadership and managers.  It usually outlines the critical processes behind your organization’s policies, expectations, and business operations.  The goal behind your human resources handbook is to ensure that your policies are implemented consistently and in compliance across your company.

Why is a Human Resources Handbook Required?

A human resources manual helps relieve your managers of having to figure out how to interpret and implement policy.  While your employee handbook may include your company’s policy on a variety of subjects, the human resources manual would include information about applicable laws and requirements about those policies so that managers are aware of compliance requirements.

Why is a Custom Human Resources Manual Important? No two businesses are alike and your human resources manual should be customized to your business policies and practices.  Your employees will always be your greatest resource and your handbook should be written in a way that reflects this to those in charge.  A customized HR manual will play a critical role in developing positive business culture, as well as improving employee engagement and productivity.  A customized HR handbook should also outline the company’s stance on employee wellness and personal development.

What Should be Included in a Human Resources Handbook?

Your human resources handbook should be filled with information, tools, tips, checklists, and road maps to guide HR professionals and managers through the minefield of people and legal issues.  There should be sections about recruiting and retaining the best employees, as well as how to terminate poor performers.  Other categories should include how to manage a diverse workforce, how to accurately appraise job performances, how to identify legal pitfalls and stay away from lawsuits, and how to coach and counsel employees.

How Often Should a Human Resources Manual Be Updated?

Generally speaking, when your employee handbook gets updated, your human resources manual should also be updated to reflect these changes.  Updating policies for your employees but not going into detail about these changes with your HR professionals or managers is a recipe for disaster.  Reasons for changes to your manuals could be for legal reasons or there are changes in operations.  Advances in technology could also require changes (think how the social media explosion required changes to the work environment just a few short years ago, or even more recent, changes necessitated by COVID-19).

We recommend that you update your HR manual before any new processes take effect.  This can help your managers prepare to answer employees' questions and oversee the new programs consistently. 

The whole point of an updated policy is to ensure that your company is ready to handle the new challenge ahead.  You can’t do that without informing your employees and your managers about these changes.  Make sure your employee handbook and your HR manual reflect these changes as accurately and as concisely as possible.

A well-written, custom-created HR manual helps provide structure, control, consistency, reasonableness, and fairness to your business. In addition to defining policies and procedures that support basic management philosophies, it also clarifies your company’s expectations of its employees and describes lines of authority and levels of responsibility. 

Let’s face it, as time goes on, employees will test limits and take a certain amount of creative license in workplace situations.  Your HR manual will help your managers enforce your policies and practices that reflect your standards of acceptable behavior. I’m Rob Robinson and I’ve been practicing Florida law for over thirty years and have extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to helping small businesses develop their HR manuals and employee handbooks.  If you have questions about certain aspects of your company manuals, please contact me.  I would be proud to be an effective advocate for all of your legal needs.

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