Digital Handbooks – Are You Ready to Make the Transition?

by Bethany Wright on January 15, 2018

in Handbook,Questions

Data Journalism Handbook - Chapter 1: Introduction

One of the most important documents every business should have is an Employee Handbook.

I know, I know … boring, right? Handbooks are so long and tedious and “no one ever reads them.” Well, the truth of the matter is, an Employee Handbook is your first line of defense in many situations. When well developed, a Handbook will establish appropriate conduct for employees as well as help your business defend itself against claims.

Some of the biggest complaints I have heard about employee handbooks is that they are too expensive to print every time there is a change and that it is difficult to get the information out to all employees in a timely manner, especially those who travel frequently.

For those of you behind the “times,” a good way to solve those issues is making the move from paper format to a digital handbook. If that sounds scary to you, just think of the benefits an online document can provide you. Rather than a thick, printed booklet that employees have to remember where they stashed, employees will have immediate access to up-to-date policies by merely logging into their employee profile. In addition, a digital handbook is much less costly to keep updated, as there are little to no printing costs, and the document is ready to go as soon as the final version is approved.

If you think you might be ready to make the technological move of transferring your handbook from hard copy to digital copy, here are some guidelines to help you make this transition smoothly.

  1. Require all employees to login with a user name and a password specific to them in order to view and acknowledge the policies within the handbook. Not only will this provide documentation that they reviewed the document, it will also prevent non-employees from accessing the document.

  2. Be sure to include a Handbook Acknowledgement at the start of the process so that employees fully understand their responsibilities.

  3. As part of the Handbook Acknowledgement, be sure to include disclaimers that state the Handbook should not be viewed as an employment contract and that the policies included are subject to change and supersede all prior versions.

  4. Confirm your electronic signature process is within legal requirements so that the electronic signature is not questioned in the future. You can find some good information here:

  5. List current contacts in the document to ensure employees know who they should reach out to if they have questions or need assistance. Make sure these contacts are updated on a regular basis so the contact information is current.

  6. Provide links within the handbook itself to direct employees to additional documents such as forms or information on benefits.

  7. Notify employees immediately when the handbook is updated and require them to log in and acknowledge the changes with a new electronic signature. Email notification is a good method to document that you notified all employees. Remember to give employees a specific length of time to review the updates and follow-up with any employees who have not completed their acknowledgement at the end of the allotted time.

In addition to the above list, remember to have some hard copies of the handbook available for those who prefer to live in the dark ages, or just may not have access to a computer.

I recommend keeping your digital document fluid and updating annually, to stay on top of ever changing employment laws.

If you don’t have an Employee Handbook, or simply need it refreshed and/or reviewed, now is the perfect time to get started. Having a compliant handbook in place will help set expectations for employees, as well as protect the company in many areas. As always, we are just an email or phone call away!

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