Remote working is an employment arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. The cornerstone of communication for HR departments is their employee handbook. Outdated policies not only cause confusion among the employees but also puts the company at jeopardy for several lawsuits.
Therefore, it is really important for businesses to review their employee handbook twice a year as a policy as well as revise it every time a new law concerning the employees is introduced. E.g. the recent pandemic has raised serious questions about several compliance policies in companies and to remain clear HR needs to add and subtract several things to this corporate policy document.
Here are 4 tips to keep your employee handbook up to date while we have all started working remotely:
1. Remote Working Policies
As the entire world was forced to shift to remote working, a lot of employees complained that remote working meant they had to be available 24/7 or that their families might be close by when they are taking important work calls. To deal with such things, HR has to upgrade their company privacy policies as well as the timings of employees as well. Having access to the internet all the time should translate into working anytime and every time, especially when it comes to remote working parents, or people who have sick relatives at home etc, they should be given the flexibility of when they want to work or whether they want to work task based or time based etc.
2. New Tools For Communication
Employees who are remote can communicate via calls or SMS all the time, SaaS tools for communication such as slack should be introduced throughout the organisation to make communication easier. Some organisations do use tools like skype but skype does not offer a full range of apps it can connect to such as slack. Introducing new policies to communicate at appropriate timings and on appropriate channels according to the company need to be added to the upgraded employee manuals.
Some policies on accessing company documents and other data through your personal laptops or work laptops should also be in place to avoid data leakage. These policies are to upgraded in the document as well as communicated to the entire company over email or a short meeting
3. New Applicable Laws
New laws regarding employee welfare, different businesses, taxes etc are being introduced all the time. One of the most tedious responsibilities of an HR person is to be on the lookout for these and then after documenting the laws into the handbook, explain them to the employees too. To avoid expensive litigation, federal and local law compliance is of vital importance.
We recommend keeping your employee handbook handy in a word or google doc file and keep updating the chances as they come to you. HR is recommended to convert these policy upgrade meetings into a fun presentation or a 15-20 minute training so that its can become fun for both the parties.
4. Pandemic Contingency Plan
The covid-19 pandemic brought the remote work wave with it. A Lot of people loved working remotely but many questions arose with this plan. Such as what would the company do if another pandemic is to show up ? Would the employees be let go ? How can you make business digital if you were to lose your physical location tomorrow? How will the aggrieved employees who were let go be compensated and several other questions.
We recommend HR needs to ask the employees to send their questions that were looming in their thoughts during the pandemic and devise policies to answer those questions for the future. An entire pandemic contingency plan section should be a part of all the employee handbooks from 2020 onwards.
Whether you are starting from scratch or just upgrading the previous handbook, the two important steps include taking feedback from employees and keeping your handbook up to date according to the employee issues as well as the law. Let us know what interesting policies your company came up with to help their employees.