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Is Your Company Prepared for a Growth Spurt? Start by Getting the Right Policies in Place

Budding growthGrowth can obviously be a huge boon to your company, but it can also lead to some stumbling blocks you weren’t exactly prepared to encounter. Well, detach the nails that you’ve just dug into your office chair in panic: CareerBuilder and Inc. have just released a new report, “Geared to Growth: Building an Infrastructure for the Long Haul,” with the sole purpose of helping you prepare for any changes and challenges that come along with your company’s growth, whether that growth happens tomorrow or 10 years from now.

Below, check out a sneak peek of Part I of “Geared to Growth” — it’s all about the policies and procedures your company needs to put in place to prepare for significant growth.

The employee manual

One critical component of a planned approach to growth is the sometimes dreaded, always indispensable employee manual. As Lisa Guerin, legal editor at Nolo and co-author of “Create Your Own Employee Handbook: A Legal & Practical Guide for Employers,” says, “The actual process of sitting down and writing an employee handbook is really valuable for a company. Many companies make the mistake of creating ‘scattered policies as they come up.’”

Sound familiar? Not only does this backwards approach make it much harder to create consistent policies for things like performance reviews, vacation time and employee leave, but it also leaves companies open to legal action. “The inconsistent treatment can lead to suspicions that there may be discrimination going on, or that there may be some kind of ulterior motive,” Guerin adds.

As a general guide, an effective employee manual:

  • Covers internal policies .
  • Includes your company’s statement of compliance with laws and regulations like the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • Sets the standard for company behavior and employee conduct—for example, by stating that your company prohibits discrimination and harassment.

Guerin adds that the above three criteria handle part of companies’ need to comply with Title 7, the federal law prohibiting discrimination. “But,” she adds, “it’s also
letting employees know what kind of behavior is not acceptable, what kind of
behavior they should report, the complaint process, and what happens when
a complaint is filed.”

Note: Because the employee manual gets into legal territory, make sure your corporate counsel reviews it before you finalize and excitedly distribute it to Every. Employee. At. The. Company.

The manual is ready to go–now what?

Even though your employee manual is finalized, both your company and the world around it are likely to change from time to time. Consequently, you’ll need to review it annually and also when your company:

  • Reaches certain milestones in staff size.
  • Expands its operations or lines of business.
  • Experiences significant competitive or market changes.
  • Is affected by new laws or regulations.
  • Faces cultural changes like the rise of social media.
That last one has likely come into play for your business in some way or another, with the rapid rise of social media and its rapid integration into the workplace. Your employee manual should include guidelines on employee contributions to your corporate blog or company-related Facebook page/s.
Also, make sure employees are aware of the federal trade commission’s revised endorsement guides. They require disclosure of “any connection between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would affect how people evaluate the endorsement.”

Though a 2010 National Labor Relations Board ruling limited
the extent to which companies can restrict their employees’ personal activities
in social media, it is still important for employees to be aware of your policies and vigilant in using common sense in their social media activities.

How to get the employee manual to the people it’s meant for (hint: your employees)

Like the manual itself, how you choose to deliver your shiny new employee manual should fit the needs of your employees (if you want them to read it). For that reason, it’s best to
make it available in a variety of formats:

  • Online is a good option for people who are comfortable with receiving information electronically and have access to a computer throughout the workday.
  • Print is preferable for people who have limited exposure and access to computers.
  • Employees with disabilities may be best served by another delivery system, like one that interfaces with an audio e-reader for people with visual impairments.

Did they get it — or did they get it?

Distributing your employee manual is only half the work — the real work comes in making sure your employees understand and comprehend its contents. Otherwise, what’s the point? Your goal should be for your employee manual to serve as a tool for corporate and individual growth and success.

Once the manual is distributed, schedule time for supervisors to conduct training sessions/grievance sessions. Yes, this is where employees can air any concerns or uncertainties they have about their rights and obligations within the company — and supervisors (or whomever you deem as point people) can give them the answers they’re seeking.

Get your complimentary copy of “Geared for Growth” and check out the Infrastructure-Building Resources on page 14 for more tools to help your company create its employee manual — and all the essentials on preparing your company for a period of growth.)

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
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