Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Making An Employee Handbook for Your Small Business

Employee handbook for small business

As soon as you have one true employee, you really should have an employee handbook.  I’m not talking about your son who helps on weekends for petty cash, but an actual employee for whom you take out taxes and whatnot.  You never know when your small business will grow, so you need to be prepared.

Creating an employee handbook of course opens up a rather large can of worms.  Will you offer health insurance?  What is your vacation policy going to be?  Sick leave?  Do part-time employees get the same advantages as full-time?

The federal business website is probably the best resource for starting on this project, and About.com has a great list of resources and articles to help you along the way as well.  If you’d like to start from a template (I highly recommend that route), you can get a free one here.  Another good resource is the Business Info Guide, which will break it down by section for you.

The benefits and policies you set for your employees can often determine the quality of employee your small business will be able to attract.  Below are a few policies that are near and dear to my heart and my recommendations for them.

  • Maternity leave and family friendly policies. Too many highly education and valuable employees are being lost because of indifferent family and maternity policies.  Offer a dependent care savings account and a health savings account.  Make your maternity leave policy more generous than the law requires.  Have a paternity policy that allows both parents to be home for at least one week after birth or adoption of a new child (preferably two).  Seriously consider offering a paid maternity leave.  If you can provide childcare or emergency childcare, do so.  And remember, there are serious tax breaks to businesses that implement these practices.
  • Military leave. Don’t make servicemen and women use their vacation time to do their military leave.  And remember, they get paid MUCH less by the military, most likely.  Try to make up the difference, or simply continue paying them a normal wage while they are on up to 30 days of military duty.  If they deploy, hold their jobs (or an equivalent) until they get back, beyond the requirement of the law – many deployments are longer than that these days.  These guys and gals are covering our butts overseas so that  we can continue to have a free market economy that allows you the opportunity to start a small business at all.  The debt of gratitude we all owe is far greater than any small business employee handbook can cover.
  • Bereavement leave. Allow plenty of time for bereavement leave, especially for death of parents, children, spouses or significant others – I recommend at least 4 weeks paid leave and up to a year unpaid.  Then be lenient with enforcement of your own policy.  Sometimes an employee needs to be gone for a week to help make arrangements for a friend or aunt.  Don’t be the salt in the wound.  A depressed employee who resents you for forcing them back probably isn’t worth keeping, so give them time.
  • Health Insurance. If you can find a way to offer it, do.  If you have to skimp, vision and dental isn’t as vital as medical, I guess.  It’s going to become harder and harder for small businesses to handle healthcare costs, but try with all your might.
Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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  • Luke

    I agree, employee handbooks remind them of the rules and regs around the office and what is expected of them. Also make sure to keep the booklet nice and clean we do not want to “Order” people around to much s it were, Three Good Things to do for Your Staff, give that a read, it may come in useful!

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