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Ditch the cookie-cutter employee handbooks

Small business owners have big responsibilities, and large companies are no different. Employees still have unique needs. Every workplace has a philosophy.

There is no law that requires an employer to provide an employee handbook. However, each individual workplace can strongly benefit from a customized handbook. This handbook should follow state and federal law, as well as develop policies and procedures.

When drafting these handbooks, it is important to consider a few components, such as:

  • Mission statement. Every company has a set of values. To be successful, your employees should align with certain goals. There is no need for the mission statement to be long. It just needs to encompass expectations, such as drive, passion or determination.
  • Employment information. Every business runs differently. Employees go to handbooks for answers about overtime pay, performance reviews and safety procedures. While some information is general, other information needs to be updated frequently.
  • Employee benefits. It is not hard to believe that employees frequently search the benefits section of a handbook. You may want to at least highlight the basics of training benefits, tuition reimbursement or other soft benefits, like fitness classes.
  • Unique expectations. Aside from a general mission statement, your company probably has its own standards of conduct. Examples include dress code, social media policy and rules about excepting gifts.

Although New Jersey is an employment-at-will state, the courts may consider employment contracts depending on the nature of the handbook. Employers usually benefit from having an attorney look over their drafts. Outdated policies can be just as dangerous as having no policies at all.

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