employee handbook
This Does Not Belong in Your Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is an important document for your small business. As discussed in a previous article, a good employee handbook can protect you from all kinds of legal complications. Consequently, it is also important to know what to exclude in your handbook. In this article we will explore 3 things you should not include in your employee handbook.

Exclusion 1 – Health and Welfare Benefits Specifics

The first item to exclude is the specifics of your health and welfare benefits. It is better to prepare a separate Benefits Booklet. The reason being, plans for benefits often change from year to year. It is much easier and more efficient to update a separate document.

However, it’s a good idea to include a brief section outlining what types of benefits are offered. Subsequently, you can reference the Benefits Booklet (or whatever you decide to call it) for learning the details.

Exclusion 2 – Procedures, Safety Rules, and Job Duties

Next up on the list of items not to include in your employee handbook are procedures, safety rules, and job duties. Those details, much like the health and welfare benefits, are best documented in a separate document. In this case, an operation’s manual. The purpose of the employee handbook is to outline things in the employee-employer relationship and only what impacts all employees. This ensures it does not become a cumbersome and confusing document.

Exclusion 3 – Legally Binding Contracts

Lastly, the final item on the list of things to exclude is legally binding contracts. This would include arbitration, non-disclosure, and non-compete agreements. Remember, the employee handbook is to serve as a guide. It does not constitute an employee contract. As such, legal documents must be drafted and executed by a qualified attorney and then included with an actual employee contract to ensure proper execution.

If you’d like a review of your employee handbook, we invite you to Book an Appointment! We’d love to help.

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employee appreciation
Employee Appreciation and Your Bottom Line

Employee appreciation is more important than you think. In this article we’re going to explore just how impactful employee appreciation really is. We’ll demonstrate how genuine appreciation can transform a business in many ways. Consequently, you’ll understand how the lack of employee appreciation impacts your bottom line and has the potential to sabotage success.

We’ll begin with research by Workhuman® and Gallup®. Their report reveals that when employee appreciation efforts were doubled (from 1 in 4 to 2 in 4 polled stating they felt appreciated at work) businesses realized a 9% improvement in productivity, a 22% decrease in safety incidents, and a 22% decrease in absenteeism. For larger companies these numbers amount to millions of dollars being added to the bottom line. This study included large US businesses so when a smaller business incorporates this kind of cultural development, it serves to reason even higher percentages of improvements can be experienced in these areas.

Why it Works.

Humans are wired to do better when they feel appreciated. In fact, the feelings generated from appreciation occur when the chemicals in the brain are stimulated by the 5 senses. This article isn’t a science expose, but it helps to understand human behavior to nurture good mental health in the workplace. When genuine praise is given the brain releases dopamine. This creates a feeling of pleasure and the desire for more of it drives the behaviors by which they can repeat the feeling. So, when giving praise be specific and clear so the employee can know how to replicate it.

It’s Not Easy for Everyone

Something so simple should be easy to do but unfortunately, we humans can be complicated creatures at times. We carry around all sorts of baggage making it challenging to communicate praise. If it’s hard for you, here’s some ways you can ensure your issues don’t stand in the way of giving employees the acknowledgement they need to feel good about their work.

Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

Need to improve an environment in which employees bad mouth each other too much? Saying nice things is free, and it goes a long way in creating positive behavior. Create a “caught being nice” contest. Over a determined amount of time, cards are collected when a person is “caught being nice”. Their name is written on a card and put in a fishbowl or a box. The person with the most notes can win a prize or be celebrated at lunch.

Create a “Job Well Done” box in which peer-to-peer or even manager-to-peer praise notes are collected. The note acknowledges something done well. They can be collected and then given to the individual or read aloud at meetings. This is a great way to create team bonding and mutual support.

Create an employee of the day/week/month and celebrate these individuals. Set up a gift program to demonstrate appreciation. It can be as simple as taking an employee to coffee to say thank you or a gift card they can use anywhere.

While praise doesn’t always have to have a monetary reward attached to it, creating an environment in which employees feel appreciated most definitely has the ability to positively impact the bottom line of every business.

Need help creating an employee appreciation program? We’re here to help! Reach out so we can chat soon.

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Increase Employee Retention

Employee Discipline – Get it Right!

employee retention
Increase Employee Retention Using Flexible Scheduling

Offering more flexibility to your employee’s schedule is an area in which you can be creative. This is one way to increase employee retention and give your employees control over their time at work. We are sharing 5 ways you can offer flexibility while still maintaining the coverage you need.

  1. Implement self-scheduling. Self-scheduling is when you let your employees know what shifts are needed and allow them to choose when they are going to work. You can use software or a paper calendar. Allowing employees the choice over the days and times they will work gives them control over their week. This will also offload the manager’s responsibilities of regularly making a schedule.
  2. Communicate with employees about open shifts and encourage them to share changes to their schedule with managers or the team to keep shifts covered.
  3. Offer incentives, such as bonuses or shift pay, to persuade staff to pick up additional or less desirable shifts.
  4. Offer cross training. Not only does this give your employees the opportunity to gain experience a new skill, but it will give everyone more flexibility as they can cover different shifts and roles.
  5. Look at offering a variety of shift lengths or different starting times. Determine what shifts would work to provide the coverage you need and then collaborate with your employees to discuss which options they would like to see.

This may not work for every business but being flexible and creative in this area will go a long way with employee retention.

Need more ideas on how to increase employee retention? Reach out for additional support.

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employee discipline
Employee Discipline – Get it Right!

No one enjoys having to initiate employee discipline. Yet, this is part of the manager’s responsibility to maintain order and workplace compliance. There’s a few steps that must be followed in order to manage appropriate disciplinary actions and it all begins – and ends – with documentation.

Disciplinary Actions Must Be In Writing

Anytime it is appropriate to discipline an employee, put it in writing. This can be on paper and filed in a paper filing system, sent in email and then printed and saved to employee’s file, or shared and recorded to a digital personnel file. This is for the protection of the manager and the company and it supports an appropriate manager-employee relationship.

Employee Discipline Must Be Timely

It is important to issue the discipline right away. Don’t wait three weeks or until their next performance review. If the issue is a big enough deal to impact the employee’s current or future standing, do it right away. Waiting is not good practice.

Disciplinary Action Must Never Be a Secret

It is not appropriate to keep an infraction secret from the employee and then drop it like a bomb in an employee review. The employee must know about it when it happens. Having issued the discipline in a timely manner and recorded it in writing, provides documentation in support of a future promotion or demotion.

All Disciplinary Records Must Be Filed

No matter what form (paper, email, digital) employee discipline is issued, the disciplinary action must be put in the employee’s personnel file. This is not something you leave laying in the “file” bin or somewhere on or in your desk. Putting proper documentation in the personnel file is necessary for Human Resources to prepare for any litigious actions from a demotion or termination.

Do you have a particularly difficult disciplinary situation you’re struggling with? We’d love to help so you stay in compliance and implement a healthy disciplinary practice. Reach out! We’re here to help.

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Are You a Helicopter Manager?

We’ve all heard of helicopter parents, right! What about helicopter managers? You know, the one that’s always hovering and micromanaging. It’s reasonable to expect accountability but let’s talk about what that looks like from a skilled manager’s standpoint.

The Objective is the Outcome, not the Process

I think we can all agree a manager must stay in sync with the pulse of what’s happening with the team and their work. But it’s not good practice to delegate and then attempt to control every aspect of the work. A skilled manager delegates by providing the why, what, and when, but must surrender the how. The objective is to focus on the outcome, not the process. This is important to building trust with the team. If a manager is constantly hovering, the team doesn’t get to take ownership of the outcome.

Don’t forget to clearly communicate the desired deadline. And it’s not acceptable to say, “as soon as you can”, or “when you have time”. This is how a breakdown in communication and expectations can occur. Providing a specific date gives a team member the opportunity to let you know if that’s reasonable given their workload. The manager can clarify if this new project takes priority over others or not. This is also when a mutually agreed check-in timeframe can be discussed.

Letting Someone Else Lead is Challenging!

When you delegate work, this means you must let someone else lead. This can be challenging but if you don’t step back, your team won’t have the opportunity to grow. If you’re checking in too often, you can sabotage their momentum.

Speaking of checking in, when you have a check-in, it’s important to give constructive, specific, timely, and relevant feedback. It should also be presented in a supportive manner, not an intimidating way. Let go of perfectionism. If their process is different than yours, that’s ok. The desired outcome is the goal. Be sure to include positive feedback at the check-in too.

Finding the Balance

A skilled manager finds the balance between delegating with clear expectations and then stepping back and getting out of the way. If you feel tempted to hover, remember skilled managers have a self-sufficient team, not a co-dependent one. Fly away helicopter, fly!

If you’re new to being a manager, or you’ve promoted new managers, we’ve got you covered. Check out our Manager Training.

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Pump Act Update
“Pump Act” Update You Need to Know!

As of April 28, 2023, a Pump Act violation can make an employer liable for legal or equitable remedies under the FLSA. In other words, if an employer violates an employee’s right to reasonable break time and space to pump breast milk, the employee can take appropriate legal or equitable remedies under the FLSA.

If you’re not familiar with the legislation, here’s a Fact Sheet.

The “Pump Act” supports a lactating mother’s right to fulfill her desire to breastfeed her child. It is the goal of legislation to help reduce socioeconomic disparities in breastfeeding rates and the related barriers to breastfeeding for working mothers.

Employers who understand the benefits of breastfeeding can become an advocate and in doing so support better health for mother and child. Not only is breastfeeding good for mother and child, but studies show a mother choosing to breastfeed reduces costs for an employer since health risks to breastfed babies are lower and consequently reducing health care costs.

Here’s a Mini-Guide to help you become a supportive employer to the needs of lactating employees.

Do you have questions about staying in compliance with laws like this and more? Reach out! We’re here to help.

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