The importance of an employee handbook that clearly sets out your business policies and procedures cannot be overstated. Although it is not a legal obligation for businesses to have a staff handbook, having one can help to dramatically improve the overall strategy for corporate governance in any type of business. A clear and concise employee handbook can help to settle workplace disputes before they begin and protect both yourself and your employees from unnecessary conflict and the potential of litigation. It also serves to inform your employees of what is expected of them and gives them an idea of what is and is not considered acceptable behaviour.
An employee handbook should be provided to employees during the induction process and should include job-related employment information covering workplace ethics, health and safety guidelines, employee privacy, staff recruitment and customer service standards. The handbook should also include provisions for holiday arrangements, company rules, payroll information, disciplinary and grievance procedures, industry regulations and any other laws with which the business must comply. It can help improve employee morale by demonstrating that you are interested in fair and consistent communication for your employees, and it can also be used to bring new employees up to speed more quickly.
The policies and working practices that are set out in the employee handbook are more beneficial and useful when they are applied as guidelines rather than as rules and regulations that must be adhered to. It’s important to avoid complex and convoluted policies and to minimise the use of legalese within the handbook, as employees who become frustrated with the amount of information and with convoluted policies are unlikely to read it.
How a Handbook Will Protect You
In the event of an employee taking legal action against your company, an employee handbook could prove to be a very useful tool in your defence. Although a staff handbook does not prevent the business from being sued, it can instead be used as a form of documented evidence. For example: If the handbook explains how overtime is calculated and your employees have acknowledged receipt of the handbook, then this could protect the business should it be accused of not paying the correct amount of overtime.
In order to provide the maximum amount of legal protection to the business, the employee handbook should be regularly updated in order to comply with the latest employment laws, as certain sections may become irrelevant and others need further clarification as rules and regulations are amended. It is therefore important that the handbook is reviewed annually and updated accordingly. It is also good practice to ask employees to acknowledge receipt of the handbook in the form of a signed document, which will also help protect the company in the case of a legal dispute.
How to Update Company Policies
There are numerous reasons why company policies may need to be reviewed and updated, such as company growth or a change in the direction or organisational structure of the business. By having a clear and concise procedure for reviewing and, if necessary, updating the employee handbook, a company can minimise the amount of time it takes to implement such changes. Some useful tips for updating an employee handbook include:
Identify the right person for the job: Ideally, the best person to oversee this task would be an HR manager, but it is equally important to record the views of all members of departments, as the policies outlined in the handbook can affect the various levels of staff in different ways.
Gather information: Research within the company to determine the need for the new policy and decide how important it is. Discussing similar policies with other companies can be useful to find out how it was implemented.
Keep the new policy simple: The language used should be simple and easy to follow and understand. Underlining the business objectives and also the benefits of the policy change and how it will be implicated among the team can help to encourage employee adoption.
Add the policy to the employee handbook: Effective use of illustrations to explain exactly what the new policy does and why it has been added can be useful. A cover letter should be included to explain why the changes were made.
Present the new policy to all employees: A meeting should be arranged so that the new policy can be discussed. By taking the time to go through and explain the change and answer any questions employees may raise, you are more likely to identify any misleading information or loopholes in the policy which may need to be amended.
The importance of an up-to-date employee handbook cannot be over-emphasised. Employees must understand the rules of their working environment and the basis and justification for these rules (policy), as well as what they and others are expected to do (procedures). An employee handbook is an extremely important tool that helps directors and senior management run a company smoothly and efficiently.
Founded in 2002, Compliance Week is the leading online source of news and information relating to corporate governance, risk and compliance. Compliance Week features weekly electronic newsletters, a monthly print magazine, proprietary databases, industry-leading events and a variety of interactive features and forums. Our mission is to help our subscribers comprehend and comply with the constantly evolving global regulations and standards to which public companies must adhere, and our focus is on critical regulatory and compliance issues related to financial reporting, regulatory enforcement, corporate governance, enterprise risk management, and related global issues.
How Much Time Is Wasted At Your Workplace – Infographic
How much time is wasted at your workplace? Focusing particularly on employee use of social media and digital communications, the folks at Biz 3.0 produced an infographic a few years ago based on research into this problem that summed up the extent of it. Many millions, possibly billions, in lost productivity are being lost to businesses every year. They kindly invited me to republish it here so that my readers and subscribers can take a look at a problem that is still as widespread as ever.
Do you agree that all businesses need a social media policy? Is simply banning social media at work a real social media policy? Surely finding an effective way to harness employee use of social media and digital communications is the way forward, turning a problem into a solution. Either way do send your own comments, questions and insights via the comments box below.
How To Invest Your Time Like Money by Elizabeth Grace Saunders was published on February 15th, 2015 and gives a concise and practical guide to breaking out of the time trap that holds back so many would be entrepreneurs. Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder & CEO of Real Life E®, a time coaching and training company. This book looks at an easily overlooked problem for new entrepreneurs. Lack of available time is a road block potentially every bit as formidable as lack of available finance.
The answer is not simply to work longer and longer until every available moment is taken or to do everything yourself so things barely move forward. Time needs to be budgeted for and invested every bit as properly as money is. This book sets out to teach how to not only identify what is important, but also how to identify (and fix) those habits and ways of thinking which would otherwise compromise decision making and how to spend your time.
Steps are outlined how to regain and keep control of available time, commit to a trusted system that suits you and avoid the trap of perfectionism. Anyone feeling overwhelmed through trying to do too much by themselves, or finding themselves bombarded to try all sorts of additional extras, would do well to take a step back and implement the measures outlined in this book to regain control of their commitments.
The beauty of the internet is that you can do anything but that doesn’t mean you should do everything. Saying no nicely to something which isn’t essential or doesn’t move your business forward is a necessary asset. There are plenty of people out there with their own agenda. The volume of spam any email address or contact details posted on attracts is an obvious example of that.
If you go to Amazon, there’s a chance to read the opening pages of the book and find out what it is about so that you never find yourself saying £there aren’t enogh hours in the day”.
Any relevant questions or comments about the book are warmly welcomed in the Comments Section below
Since their introduction in 2012, Twitter Cards have proved invaluable for expanding a tweet. Twitter cards allow much greater context to be added to a tweet including photos, article summaries, direct downloads, audio clips, and more. What’s more, Pinterest also supports Twitter Cards. This means that you can view a Pin that has been shared via Twitter without the need to also head over to Pinterest to actually see it.
Here’s a great infographic from the team at SurePayroll to explain it all in more detail with particular emphasis on how to drive traffic with Twitter Cards:
If you decide to take Twitter Cards for a spin do be sure to tell us how it goes by sending your informed comments for publication in our comments section below this article, especially your own insights into how to drive traffic with Twitter Cards.
Britain has become the self-employment capital of Europe with no less than 4.5 million Britons working for themselves. This is over 15% of the country’s total workforce.
Many reasons have been put forward for this trend. Perhaps the lack of paid employment opportunities is forcing peoples’ hands. Perhaps there is a stronger entrepreneurial culture in the UK which drives more people to try their hand at going it alone than is the case in many other Western economies, including our European trading partners.
Whatever the explanation however, new entrepreneurs will quickly be confronted by formidable challenges in seeking to move their business forward. One of the biggest obstacles is going to be the issue of storage. A lot of agony later can be spared by troubleshooting major storage issues to achieve business growth.
To begin with, use of space in the home or somewhere attached to the house might be attractive in terms of keeping costs down but this will soon seriously inhibit the possibility of growth due to inevitable restrictions of space. It will also have a major impact on domestic life. An understanding and supportive partner will be essential for anyone in a family environment. Even if little inventory is required, paperwork, record keeping and other requirements will quickly mount. Security will also be an important issue.
Most new entrepreneurs and small businesses will probably have no idea how to go about developing their own storage systems. I am amused with my new discovery of Warehouse Storage Solutions Company, one of the UK’s largest providers of mezzanine floors and other storage solutions to cater to any business’s needs.
Any business reaching this stage of development will find it essential to have relevant guidance from an experienced storage provider, otherwise their costs will quickly escalate and have a major impact on profitability. “Turnkey” packages with electrical works, sprinklers, groundworks etc will greatly assist the efficiency of a storage project. It will be better to have the appropriate guidance on what is needed from an independent provider which doesn’t manufacture it’s own range of storage equipment so that there is no conflict of interest.
Now that cloud computing has come of age, devices can talk to each other. An account with any of the leading cloud storage providers means that you can text or email a customer and organise mutually agreed times for the delivery of their order. Customers will be looking for a prompt response when ordering, so keeping up with mobile and cloud advances will be essential.
Whichever of the best providers you choose will makes little difference. Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud all offer some storage capacity for free with the option to upgrade as business storage needs grow. If you’re a Microsoft user and a 365 subscriber, there’s also the option of unlimited storage via OneDrive as it rolls out in the coming months.
Efficient relocation will either make or break any business as it expands. UKRS is an efficient relocation service which is popular amongst many new business starters. It will be essential not to fall between two stools, either by overexpanding capacity before there is a need or by not thinking big enough and being unable to meet customer expectations. Issues of Health and Safety must also be carefully addressed so discussing your needs with a reputable storage provider is more important than ever.
A recent report puts Britain at the top of the list when it comes to self-employment. We’re now, apparently, the self-employed capital of Europe. Some 4.5 million of us work for ourselves, making up over 15% of the labour market.
Various reasons are cited, from a weak jobs market to more people wanting to forge their own path towards fulfilling their aspirations. Whatever other motives drive people towards the entrepreneur life, leaps forward in technology along with practical and accessible physical storage options play a part.
Gone are the days when you need a bank loan just to hire enough space to store physical stock. The previous lack of small to mid-sized storage capacity was a stumbling block to any entrepreneur who wanted to enter the retail or mail order market. As the popularity and acceptability of online auction sites grew, (they’re now used by major High Street vendors as well as sole traders), a rising need for secure storage became apparent.
Home storage lacks organization. It smudges the boundaries between a healthy work/life balance out of existence. Warehousing is beyond the means of the smaller trader so a sizeable gap in the marketplace grew.
Enter self storage companies like Big Yellow, who now offer a viable and professional, long-term solution. That’s long-term in a business-life sense, not in a contract sense, because with storage room rentals from just a week, traders are free to respond to changing business needs with very short notice periods. Moving up or down in storage space so as to accommodate seasonal fluctuations is common. The availability of large lockers also puts storage within reach of those with very modest needs who don’t need entire rooms. These allow entrepreneurs to start out on a professional footing from the beginning, with a ready-made plan for growth.
Self storage companies provide secure, easily accessible storage, with plenty of space for delivery vehicles. In addition, helpful staff will sign for deliveries when you’re not there. Add in extended opening hours, and it’s easy to understand why up to half the units in a facility are now taken up by business ventures.
Cloud Computing for Virtual Storage
Cloud computing came of age when devices were taught to talk to each other. Now, an account with any of several cloud storage providers means you can email customers at home then nip out to the self storage unit to pack up orders, without losing track of stock levels. Customers expect a rapid response when they contact you, so keeping up with mobile and cloud advances can give you the edge.
Whichever of the best known providers you choose, makes little difference. Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud all offer some storage capacity for free with the option to upgrade as business storage needs grow. If you’re a Microsoft user and a 365 subscriber, you can now also sign up for unlimited storage with OneDrive which is rolling out over the coming months.
Seamless Storage and Customer Service
Having a disconnect between the point of sale and the stock storage location can cause delays in restocking and mixed up dispatches, which can both add up to unhappy customers and lost sales.
Savvy entrepreneurs who harness the best of both worlds: professional, flexible storage and the power of cloud computing, pull off the seemingly impossible feat of being in two places at once.
They’re in the office taking care of admin and customer support, but also at the depot managing stock and dispatching orders. In a fast paced business environment, it’s hard to think of a more efficient solution.
What Is The Best Length For Tweets, Facebook Posts & YouTube Videos?
Branding and advertising experts generally know the most engaging length of a billboard headline, a print copy or a TV advert. But do they know the best length for tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos? Do they know the ideal length of a domain name?
Even though it’s much more challenging to keep a tweet to between 71 & 100 characters, it will certainly make it much easier for anyone wishing to retweet it or add a comment of their own. Just because you can say more doesn’t mean to say you need to use them for the optimum response.
Let me know whether you agree or have a different approach. Relevant comments are always welcomed.
There’s little doubt that there are some great office rental opportunities out there, though for the inexperienced business owner, entrepreneur or manager, how can they tell a great deal from one precisely the opposite?
Rental rates naturally play a major role in their estimations, but as anyone who’s ever hired office space before should know well, there’s a lot more to a great office rental than rental rates alone, no matter how favourably low they are, or as is often the case, appear at first.
Image credit: Simon Collison, license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/collylogic/4793874877
There are many areas in which office rental mistakes are made, not all of which involve contracts, landlords or office space, but rather the way one goes about making arrangements, for example, procrastinating and not allowing themselves adequate time which often leads to them making panic decisions – that’s number one.
Procrastinating and making panic decisions
Six months prior to relocating is widely considered the right time to start searching for a new office rental because there’s a lot more involved in hiring an office rental than signing on the dotted line and moving in – much more.
Commercial tenants who fail to give themselves ample time generally find themselves making panic decisions and these are the decisions that often take their toll on the health of a business in a myriad of ways.
Not clarifying business objectives
What are your objectives for relocating to a new office space, or if you’re taking your business from the spare bedroom or garage to a ‘proper’ office, what are your reasons for relocating?
Failing to clarify your business objectives regarding office space often has disastrous results; consequently, you need to understand your office space needs to make sure the office you hire meets the specific needs of your business.
Not shopping around
With so many offices for rent it really does pay to shop around. Not only do you need to compare office rental rates in the area you’ve decided upon, but you also need to compare factors like contract flexibility, location, access to public transportation, car parking facilities and meeting space, networking opportunities, local amenities and so much more – this is why you need to allow yourself ample time to hire an office.
Not seeking representation
This isn’t necessary everywhere, though in some countries, most notably the US, commercial tenants aren’t afforded the same rights as residential tenants. “Unlike residential tenants, there are no laws that protect commercial tenants. You are on your own to negotiate a lease that protects your own interest,” says Otto J. Kostbar, Esq., a real estate expert based in Jamesburg, NJ.
Not inspecting the office and/or the contract
Before signing on the dotted line it’s imperative that you inspect the office for breakages and signs of wear and tear and document them with the landlord for future reference.
Inspecting the contract before signing is also crucial, and whilst you probably don’t need legal representation, it’s not a bad idea and could prevent problems in the future. If you don’t want to pay for a solicitor, have an experienced business peer or friend look over the contract for you.
Not negotiating with landlords
Never underestimate your negotiating leverage – most landlords would rather have a tenant in now at a lower rate than deal with the uncertainty of leaving an office vacant.
Most commercial property experts advocate making plans to hire office space at least six months in advance because this provides tenants with ample time to explore the options available to them, inspect offices, scrutinise lease documents and negotiate with landlords – how much time have you given yourself?