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4 employee handbook mistakes new business owners must avoid

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2022 | Business Law |

Businesses of all sizes rely on the strength of their contracts to provide a solid foundation for any interaction. Whether it is vendor contracts, business agreements or employment clauses, the organization must take care when drafting all types of documentation. No matter the size or scope of the organization, one key factor in its success is how the company executes the employee handbook.

Whether the organization relies on a handful of workers or three full-time shifts of employees, the employee handbook is critical. Unfortunately, many organizations create this document in haste and leave themselves open to problems in the future. There are numerous common mistakes that business owners must avoid, including:

  • Failing to use clear language: Whether it is legalese, vague terms or industry jargon, a company might fall into the trap of attempting to sound professional at the expense of clarity. Unclear writing and vague terms can sink an employee’s understanding of the handbook before the first shift even ends.
  • Failing to define terms: Closely following the previous item, many organizations also rely on company lingo or industry jargon to complete the relevant information. Unfortunately, they write the contract without fully identifying these terms to new employees. An organization cannot expect employees to understand unexplained acronyms or ill-defined technical terms.
  • Failing to include provisions for training: Small organizations often fall into the trap of believing a well-executed employee handbook is all workers need. Unfortunately, workers might fail to interpret the document correctly, forget the information shortly after it is presented or miss the importance of certain passages. It is crucial that the organization provides a degree of training to ensure the workers understand the rules, regulations and culture responsibilities of the job.
  • Copying language from other handbooks: Most people find it hard to start writing a professional document from scratch. The ease of using language from a previous version of the company’s handbook, a handbook from a previous business endeavor or a handbook from a similar organization found online could tempt owners. While this might provide a good starting point, business owners must modify all language that they carry over to ensure is clearly fits the new organization’s needs.

Even though every situation is unique, business owners must make certain to avoid common mistakes when implementing an employee handbook and other organizational contracts. Certain errors can lead to catastrophic miscommunications, diminished relevance or lack of legal enforceability.