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Image courtesy of RickyMartin

Winding down the last hours of 2014 seems like prime time to sit and reflect on the year: what went right, what went wrong, your biggest joys, and your greatest challenges.  It’s a time when it’s so easy to focus on the past simply for the sake of reflection.  But a review of what has happened this past year won’t fully prepare you for success in 2015.  As a business owner, a great way to prepare for the new year is by taking a good look at one of the most important (though often overlooked) parts of your business: The Employee Handbook.

Do you have an employee handbook?  If not, put this one on the top of your list, as a properly produced handbook will assist you in treating your employees uniformly and offer you valuable legal protection from a disgruntled employee.  If you do have one, gather your thoughts in order to do your annual update to your existing handbook.

Here are some things to consider for your update:

  • Does your current handbook reference specific policies or benefits that change periodically (medical benefits, for instance)?  Consider moving any of these to a referenced addendum so that they can easily be switched out as changes arise.


  • Do you currently have policies relating to technology and security concerns?  Review these policies to remove outdated technologies that are no longer of concern and add in current technology or devices as appropriate.


  • Does your current handbook have a clear policy regarding the use of social media?  Consider adding a clause restricting the use of social media to harass, bully, or disparage other employees or the company.


  • Does your current handbook reference current paid sick leave laws?  Many states have recently added new obligations in this area, and your handbook should reflect them.


  • Does your current handbook provide information regarding the accommodation of pregnant or lactating mothers?  Many states have also added specific laws in this area in the past year.


  • Does your current handbook define who is eligible under FMLA laws?  With the impending changes by the Department of Labor to extend the “place of celebration” rule to all legally married same-sex couples, you may want to include updating your definition of “spouse” as referenced by your handbook.


  • Does your current handbook have a clear framework regarding disciplinary action?  It’s always important to set expectations for an underperforming employee, so that they, and you, can navigate the process without confusion.  It will also assist you in treating different employees fairly.  Just be certain that your policy provides room for flexibility and does not attempt to address every type of disciplinary situation that might arise (to prevent you from being unable to terminate someone immediately).

Remember, a great employee handbook sets expectations for your employees, highlights the benefits you offer your employees, provides a framework for management, and can protect you in unemployment claims and assist your defense from employee lawsuits.  It is an invaluable tool and is the perfect first step in preparing your business for the upcoming year, so grab this task by the horns and check it off your list.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]