Employee Handbook Mistakes: Create a More Effective Manual

Image Source: CalChamber

You have an employee handbook and, in fact, you’ve had it for years. You are diligent about giving it to your new hires and having them sign to say they’ve read it. But is this really effective? Is the information you’re communicating really resonating with your employees? Are they even taking it in?

In an industry with turnover as high as this one, it’s essential that nightclubs and bars create effective handbooks, but we’re making a lot of mistakes with them. What are those mistakes and how can we rectify them?

Giving too Little Information

The biggest mistake, says Philip Robert Brinson, partner at law firm LeClairRyan in Houston, TX, is not providing sufficient information on company policies or training new hires on the employee handbook.

Giving too Much Information

Operators often try to cover too much ground in their handbook, says Brinson. He suggests keeping it short (bullet points are ideal) then following up with employees within a week to see if they have any questions.

They are too Generic

Employers often create handbooks from a generic template rather than tailoring them to fit the size, culture, and other specific features of their bar or club, says Shira Forman, employment lawyer with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP in New York City. “The best handbooks are not just informative, but also reflective of the business in their overall tone and style,” she explains.

No Time to Read Them

Employers too frequently tell new hires there’s a handbook and have them sign a form that says they’ve seen it, then give them no time to review it and ask questions.

Not Reinforcing the Information

“Every opportunity to refresh and teach the content should be taken, such as in daily, weekly or monthly employee meetings,” Brinson says. You should also, in his opinion, “conduct routine meetings, with an agenda that requires [you] to cover certain sections of the handbook in a rotating fashion. Some sections will obviously require more attention, so the agenda should reflect the content coverage.”

They're Not Accessible

The handbook should be stored on location and all employees should know where it is. You can also make it available electronically, provided all employees can access it.

They're Out of Date

Your manual should be reviewed quarterly and updated as necessary, including any changes in employment practice law, Brinson says. Forman adds that at a minimum, you should hire an attorney annually to review and update your handbook. “This effort may seem time consuming, but the reduction in exposure to potential liability, the benefit of having a well trained workforce, and the advantages of continually educating management will ultimately translate into a well-honed, knowledgeable, and informed workforce,” says Brinson

English Only

Many bars and nightclubs fail to make their handbook available in their employees' primary language, so it’s a good idea to translate it, says Forman.

Need more management strategies to help your business succeed?  Check out the Operations & Management track at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show taking place March 7-9 in Las Vegas. 

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