The COVID-19 pandemic changed how Americans work and how businesses will operate. While some employees will continue to work from home in Coronavirus’s wake, others are eagerly returning to their positions in offices and plants across the nation and our home state of North Carolina.
- You already know employees are your most valuable resource, and possibly your most significant investment.
- Top talent is expensive to recruit, and even entry-level employees are costly to train.
- As we open our doors and move forward after COVID-19, your employee handbook is more important than ever.
At Platinum Group, we know how valuable your employees are. Today, we’ll talk about five reasons to update your employee handbook right now.
5 Reasons to Update Your Employee Handbook Now
From social distancing requirements to substance abuse challenges, let’s look at your employee’s needs in the aftermath of Coronavirus, and how they relate to your employee handbook.
1. The Organization’s Mission Has Changed
Factories that once produced T-shirts had the insight to change their business model throughout the pandemic. Now they make masks. Craft breweries have changed their focus from ale to sanitizer.
- If your operations have changed due to COVID-19, it’s time to update your employee handbook.
If your primary product or services haven’t changed, but your methods have — like the need for social distancing in your plant — it’s probably time to rewrite portions of the employee handbook, too.
2. Your Business Must Practice Social Distancing Requirements
Every organization is unique, but employers in every sector must implement social distancing practices. How this is accomplished at your organization may vary. In the employee handbook, you’ll need to:
- Explain the value of social distancing
- Define which steps staff should take, and examine new accessories at the workplace, such as plexiglass “sneeze guards” or floor markers that delineate six-foot spaces
- Describe the value and location of hand-washing stations, PPE, and masks if needed.
- Define what corrective steps might be taken if employees are lax about these guidelines — like coaching, a written warning, and eventual termination.
Remember, the employee handbook is for every member of your team. Some staffers might be reluctant to return to work if they feel their health is at risk. The mild threat of eventual termination for non-compliance will put these people at ease while strengthening the whole team’s commitment. Let your employees know that your organization is serious about compliance!
3. Compliance with New State and Local Guidelines, and Evolving Compliance Issues for Multiple Locations
At the time of writing, October 2020, North Carolina is in Phase Three of reopening. Every state, many counties and certain municipalities across the nation will have slightly different target points and metrics to monitor for reopening. For instance, some states are aiming for low infection statistics. Others are focusing on hospital bed availability and low fatality stats.
- For organizations with multi-state operations or interstate trucking, HR teams need to ensure the employee handbook relates well to current guidelines at each location.
- Consider publishing your employee handbooks in a 3-ring-binder. That way, sections relating to social distancing or evolving guidance can be updated selectively without re-publishing the entire book every time.
- It’s also helpful for multi-state organizations that use different group health insurance plans from one location to the next.
Speaking of health insurance, your updated employee handbook should highlight your company’s dedication to employee health and wellness. Employees returning to work are less physically fit than they were a year ago. Some may be struggling with alcoholism, substance abuse and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
4. Your Employee Handbook Should Highlight Employee Health
The Coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly stressful for many Americans. Perhaps your employees had financial concerns. Maybe they’re struggling to home school children, and they may be grieving for the loss of a loved one.
- Your new handbook should highlight counseling or therapeutic services available from your group health insurance plans.
- It should also address any changes for personal time off, Paid Family Leave (PFL) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19 or any other contagious disease.
- Finally, it should provide guidelines for employees about when to stay home from work.
Thirty years ago, the American work ethic was focused on production. Our perception of hard work meant an early morning, constant activity, and diligent work regardless of employee health.
While that was changing before COVID-19 — employers were focusing more on quality work from a better-educated workforce, as opposed to fifty-plus hours of production as a goal — 2020 has changed the way we view employee health! We’ve learned that well-rested employees work better, produce more, make fewer errors, and suffer fewer workplace injuries.
Lastly, let’s discuss the biggest reason you need an employee handbook immediately: you never had one.
5. What Employee Handbook?
Perhaps your organization was birthed during the Coronavirus situation. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur who saw the need in your community for a unique service during those unusual months. Or perhaps your cottage industry for candles and bath bombs saw such a tremendous increase in online business due to stay-at-home orders, so you needed to expand and hire help.
If you haven’t written and implemented an employee handbook for your company, you should do so now. Your employee handbook will clearly define organizational practices, provide an understanding of expectations, encourage and enforce behavior that contributes to your young business’s success.
About Platinum Group
The Platinum Group Team knows that you need a terrific team to build an empire of sustainable growth. No matter which division of Platinum Group you’re working with — Payroll/HR or Accounting, — our team is built upon on a foundation of support, service, camaraderie and collaboration that we share in-house and with our clients. If you need help updating your employee handbook let’s talk!