You have great employees, right? They’re sensible, fair and trustworthy, right? Well, this advice isn’t for you. BUT we all know how poisonous a bad employee can be, not only because they are time wasters, fail to meet your expectations or just plain dangerous, but also because they can change the culture of the workplace. A good staff manual, which ticks all the policy boxes, is a necessity for any successful business.

Why is a staff manual so important?

Remember, a staff manual is not a legal document but rather works in conjunction with your legally binding employment agreement. A simple sentence in your employment agreement links the two; The company Staff Manual outlines policies, procedures and staff expectations. All staff who sign this agreement are therefore expected to adhere to the policies and procedures outlined in the Staff Manual document. The company reserves the right to change these policies at any time. This enables a tailored staff manual to become a powerful admin tool for your business.

It is very important that you tailor your staff manual for your business and get it right the first time. You need to tick all the policy boxes but also cover potential foreseeable concerns that are unique to your business such as specific workplace hazards or unique staffing issues.

What should you include?

–  Mission Statement – A couple of lines explaining your company ethos

–  Services – new employees gain an overview of the business as a WHOLE; they may only be one small part of that.

–  Engagement – covers all specifics such as leave policy, operation, absences, training, probation etc. Some of these will have been covered by your employment agreement also.

–  The following policies may seem wordy but are all important: Code of Conduct, Internet/Email, Workplace Health & Safety, Anti-Bullying, Grievance, Intellectual property, and the all-important sign off page

–  That sign-off page is the most important aspect and you MUST be diligent to ensure all staff signs it and to store it in their employment file.

–  But most importantly, make sure everyone reads, can access anytime and understands this manual so both staff and employers are treated fairly at your workplace.

In it, you as the employer are clearly setting expectations. However you also encourage fairness & understanding by including a clear grievance policy showing how you’ll handle issues as they arise.

The main reason you have a staff manual is to cover yourself. If staff are late all the time well, you covered that in staff expectations regarding punctuality. If they’re poorly dressed well, you covered that in the dress code. If they’re just mean, well you covered that in anti-bullying. And if they’re evil and steal from you, well guess what, you covered that aspect too.

It’s really just another plate of armor when it all goes wrong with an employee. This document is not for your wonderful staff who have been loyal, hardworking and with you for years; this document is for the pain in the neck who’s coming…. But you need to explain to everyone that whether they’re new or existing employees they need to adhere to the policies outlined within.


This article was written by Alexi Boyd, Director, Boyd Office Management Services.

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