You Need An Employee Handbook – Here’s How To Create Your First

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Creating a comprehensive guide for your business might seem like a daunting task, but an employee handbook can help a company of any size protect its business and improve retention. A handbook is an indispensable time and money saver in the case of any performance issues down the line.

The employee handbook includes all company policies, and functions as a guide for your team as well as protection for your business in the case of a dispute. You can keep your handbook general, or use it as an opportunity to make a lasting first impression and shape each new hire with your company vision. Here are some basics to get you started.

Where to start

Employee handbooks typically open with standards regarding workplace conduct. Start compiling this portion by observing your workplace. Track common practices, challenges, even resolutions to previous issues, and create a plan around them. This section should include the following:

  • Dress code
  • Ethics guidelines
  • General workplace behavior
  • Compensation
  • Time-off policy
  • Benefits
  • Confidentiality/non-compete clauses

This is also an opportunity to present your company mission, and tell new employees how to best represent your business as a part of the team. What information would help every new hire succeed, and ensure smooth processes within your organization? Answering that question is essential to a great employee handbook.

What you must include by law

This portion of your employee handbook is extremely important. All businesses must abide by federal and state regulations in their hiring practices, and it’s critical to show compliance in your handbook to prevent against any potential legal ramifications. This section should include the following:

  • Anti-discrimination and harassment policiesThe U.S. Department of Labor requires businesses to post information stating compliance with equal opportunity employment laws and anti-discrimination acts. This is also an opportunity to tell employees how to stay in compliance.
  • Medical leave policies – Show your compliance with The Federal Family Medical Leave Act, as well as your state’s policies and those specific to your business.
  • Worker’s Compensation – Most states require worker’s compensation policies be made available to employees in writing.
  • Employment at will – At-will employment refers to the labor law stating employees can be terminated at any time by an employer without warning or just cause. If your business is in an state exempt from at-will employment, include some standard termination grounds and processes.

Make sure every new hire confirms with a written signature that they have read the handbook completely before their first day on the job.

It’s important to talk to an HR professional while drafting your handbook to ensure your company is in compliance with federal and state regulations. You want to make sure you’ve covered your bases, and are doing everything you can to protect your business. Having a dedicated team take up the burden of HR responsibilities like creating and maintaining an employee handbook can help you avoid mistakes that make your business vulnerable to legal retribution. Bambee helps give small business owners the HR tools to grow and protect their business, so they can get back to running it. Head over to www.bambee.com to see how we can help support your organization in all its human resource needs.

4 HR Basics Every Small Business Owner Should Know

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Small business owners are far more likely to be sued by an employee than a large corporation is. This increased risk is due to a few unfair disadvantages experienced by small businesses, specifically the lack of a dedicated human resources department.

Labor laws can be complex. A business owner responsible for running an entire organization doesn’t have time to study them, or the money to outsource this important work. Ensuring these rules and regulations are followed to the letter only becomes more important as a company grows – they serve as a protection for your employees as well as for you and your business.

Having access to a human resources team can protect your business from some of these costly lawsuits, and Bambee wants to help. Here are some basics to help you lay the HR groundwork, and keep your business safe and secure

1. Create a comprehensive employee handbook

This might seem like a daunting task, but putting together an employee handbook is a lot simpler than you’d think with the right support system. A handbook is an indispensible time and money saver in the case of any performance issues down the line.

The employee handbook includes all company policies, and functions as a guide for your team as well as protection for your business in the case of a dispute. Your handbook can be as specific to your organization’s needs as you like. We recommend that it include at least these basic components:

  • General standards of workplace conduct
  • Anti-discrimination and harassment policies
  • Confidentiality
  • Leaves of absence, paid time off, and work schedules
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employment at will

Make sure every new hire confirms with a written signature that they have read the handbook completely before their first day on the job.

2. Post required federal and state regulations

This is an easy one to check off the to-do list. Federal and state regulation requires information related to working conditions, hours, wages, and other industry specific laws to be posted and available to employees at all times during the workday. All you have to do is obtain the required signage for your state and business, and make sure it’s posted in a visible spot within your office (it’ll make a great addition to your breakroom!). It’s important for all employees to be aware of regulations, and for your business to have a record of making them public.

You can find more information for your specific state and industry, and order all posters required for your particular business, here.

3. Maintain a physical file of ALL employee documents

Keeping a record for every employee is an HR essential. There are three types of files that must be kept for each member of your team:

The I-9 file verifies employment authorization for anyone hired in the United States. Federal law requires a completed I-9 form to be on file for all employees, and available for inspection at anytime.

The employee medical file contains any information related to an employee’s health or medical history. This includes insurance paperwork, doctor’s notes, disability information, or workers’ compensation incident reports.

The general employee file includes all pertinent documentation exchanged from the initial application through the exit interview – resume, job application, offer letter, signed employee handbook, payroll information, performance evaluations, documentation of any disciplinary action or warnings, and termination documentation.

All employee information is confidential, and should be kept in a secure location only accessible by the business owner.

4. Have an airtight termination process

Terminating an employee is never easy, but it’s especially difficult without a dedicated HR team. As a small business owner you’re not only running every aspect of a business on your own, you’re also likely to be working closely with employees, which can make firings particularly challenging.

Having a dedicated team take up the burden of HR responsibilities can help you establish a process, and avoid mistakes that make your business vulnerable to legal retribution. Bambee helps give small business owners the HR tools to grow and protect their business, so they can get back to running it. Head over to www.bambee.com to see how we can help support your organization in all its human resource needs.

What To Do With a Bad Employee

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Businesses take a big risk when hiring employees of different experiences and personality types, so when the team has a toxic employee, the business and everything related to the business can be in danger.  Even when the bad or toxic employee is known, it can be difficult trying to remold them into an engaged and happy employee so here’s what to do with a bad employee.

What To Do With a Bad Employee

  1. Assess the situation.  Before you can make any judgments on the employee, you need to do some research on the employee’s behavior and work performance.  You’ll want to dig into all the past and current performance metrics, any employee surveys or feedback, and review notes from past meetings. As you start to better understand how the employee turned bad or toxic, check in with HR to get some guidance on what additional intel you’d need to properly understand the situation.
  2. Determine if corrective action is needed.  Once you’ve assessed the situation, you’ll want to figure out if taking corrective action with the employee is an option.  Typically, when you do not have past documentation of any performance or behavioral issues, corrective action with help both you and the business. Disciplining employees by using a corrective action plan can help kickstart the process of trying to rehabilitate the employee.
  3. Check in with HR.  Depending on your organization’s policies and the employee issue, it may be difficult to figure out which course of action to take.  HR is your best resource to help you make the right decisions and can help determine if corrective action or termination is the best course of action.
  4. Openly communicate with the employee.  Once you’ve gone through the first three steps, it’s time to have a conversation with the employee to understand their perspective.  This will help clarify any potential issues and can help you decide if any corrective action should be taken. 
  5. Consider termination.  If everything has been researched, communication has happened between the employee and HR, and the employee continues to be bad or toxic, then firing the employee becomes a real option. Discuss with HR if you’re considering firing the employee so you can ensure the business stays protected if the employee needs to be terminated. 

How to Beat a Performance Improvement Plan

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While some may think being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan as something of a career death sentence, being placed on one is the best opportunity to reset expectations about your work performance so you can forge a new path in growth for your own job and career.  Let’s take a look at how to beat the performance improvement plan.

How to Beat a Performance Improvement Plan

  1. Get out of your comfort zone.  Being placed on a Performance Improvement Plan means the business is taking your case seriously, so you should also take it seriously.  This may take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s in your best interest to communicate with your manager to figure out the resources you need to reach the goals given to you and list out the reasons why you weren’t able to hit the goals previously. 
  2. Stay focused.  Your manager or the company’s HR team may have suggested strategies to help you achieve the agreed-upon goals. Whether or not you received them, it’s up to you to figure out additional strategies and how to execute them. You only have a small window of time to get it right, so it’s important to stay focused on achieving your specific goals.  
  3. Communicate often.  It would be unwise to simply keep doing what you have been in the past and hope things will work out. Your manager should have set up some follow-up dates to check in with you. If not, be proactive and set up those follow-up dates yourself. It’s best to communicate any issues you’re having earlier on so you can have a better chance at achieving your goals. 
  4. Seek help.  Help can come from anyone, whether it’s your current network of relationships or outside of it.  Although every Performance Improvement Plan is different, the goals you need to achieve will help you figure out who you can leverage to increase your chances of succeeding.  
  5. Be confident.  It can feel like you’re constantly under the microscope and everything is on the line. But always keep in mind that it’s you who has the power to decide if you’re going to give it your best or not. There are other people on the same team who are hitting their goals and assuming you’re receiving all the same resources and have a similar skillset, you should be able to hit those goals as well. 

Bambee helps give HR and Managers the right tools to allow their Employees to be successful during a Performance Improvement Plan. 

Head over to www.bambee.com to see how we give HR and Managers the right tools for successful Performance Improvement Plans or share Bambee with your favorite HR person and Manager.

-The Bambee Team

The Real Truth about Performance Improvement Plans

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There has been some misconception about what a performance improvement plan is and what it represents, especially for employees on the receiving end. Forbes even goes out of their way to have you thinking that these plans are only set in place to let you go. 

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is simply a way for you and your manager to come up with an action-oriented process for your success.  It gives you and employees like you a real shot at improvement since it requires your manager to give you additional resources to succeed, including more direct, face-time with your manager. 

Performance Improvement Plans Work When You Believe They’ll Work

  • Know the Path is Clear.  You’ve been given the road map for success and all you have to do is deliver the quality results.  One little-known fact about a Performance Improvement Plan is that businesses also hold managers accountable during the Plan. Each termination increases risk to the business so it’s in the company’s benefit to create a level playing field for employees. Even though your manager has a cleared a path for you, it’s possible you still may stumble.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.  This is a highly underrated option for many individuals so once you’ve agreed to the plan, don’t be afraid to get help from your fellow co-workers and your manager as well.  Feel like you can’t ask for help? Now is the time to voice that concern, either verbally or by email, to your manager or HR.

  • Don’t Stop Believing.  There’s no need to sugarcoat this – Performance Improvement Plans have a bad reputation.  However, they exist to help employees and protect the business.  Each company uses them differently, but it’s important that you stay positive and treat it as a learning experience. 

Bambee gives HR, Managers, and Employees the clarity and transparency needed for a successful Performance Improvement Plan. 

Head over to www.bambee.com to see in detail how we help make clarity and transparency happen or share Bambee with your favorite HR person.

-The Bambee Team

Six Ways You’re Doing Performance Improvement Plans Wrong

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As a manager, there have likely been times where an employee underperforms, and sometimes, it requires a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). A common problem is that managers are left with a template with little to no instruction. Whether that template is found online or is straight from HR, it’s tough to know the right way to do things, especially if you don’t do it often.  Here are some red flags to look for when it’s time to give an employee a Performance Improvement Plan.

Top Ways You’re Doing Performance Improvement Plans Wrong

  1. Finding a template online.  Online templates are typically created for a specific industry or company and may not fulfill all the special needs of your specific case.  Templates also make it difficult to understand how long the Performance Improvement Plans should actually last.
  2. No Review or Approval by HR.  Every Performance Improvement Plan you use should be thoroughly reviewed prior to the meeting you have with the employee so that all steps are accounted for in the plan and all the right details are there. Remember, Performance Improvement Plans help improve the employee in the best case scenario, but in the worst case scenario, they can help protect the business.
  3. Unclear or Unattainable Goals. Without the right guidance or training, setting goals and timelines can be very difficult, which increases risk to the business and the employee.  When you use a performance improvement plan, you need to make sure to create goals that are specific to the employee’s ability and needs and align with their job description. We recommend following the S.M.A.R.T. rule for goal setting.
  4. Little to No Follow-ups.  Just as your employee needs to be held accountable for improving their performance, you (the manager) needs to be held accountable for following up on your end.   Having consistent and frequent follow-ups scheduled to meet with your employee creates a platform for proper dialogue that’s beneficial to the employee and the company.
  5. Lack of Communication.  It is essential to have adequate communication with your employee during the length of the Performance Improvement Plan.  We recommend meeting up at least once per week for a 30-day plan. Depending on the primary issue or new proposed goals, you may want to follow-up more frequently.
  6. Sparse Documentation.  It’s hard to remember to document incidents right when they occur or report it to HR, since it’s easy to give you employee the benefit of the doubt. This makes it difficult to remember all the details of past examples when it’s time to place them on a Performance Improvement Plan. 

Bambee helps managers like you create Performance Improvement Plans by giving best-practice tips and guidance at each step of creation. We also help with getting the proper review and approval from HR, facilitate communication between every person involved, and keep you on top of follow-ups with your employee. 

Head over to www.bambee.com to give us a try for free or share this post with your favorite person in HR.

-The Bambee Team

What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

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A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is just as the name suggests: a plan to improve an employee’s performance.  As a manager, if you have an employee who is underperforming (whether it’s tied to work performance or something more behavioral), a Performance Improvement Plan is a great option to try and get them back on track. 

Employees who go from underperformance to average or better:

  • Saves the company money by decreasing its risk related to wrongful termination (plus the need to not spend on recruiting and training)
  • Boosts your team’s morale by showing you and the company cares about each employee
  • Showcases your ability as a great manager and leader by being proactive and earnestly working alongside the underperformer to keep them

Now let’s say you’d like put an employee on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), so you now try to find a template or reach out to HR for their template. The problem is that every company is different, so most online templates won’t be applicable and most aren’t kept up-to-date. This is why we’ve broken down the important components of a Performance Improvement Plan to help guide you in your decision-making of what to look for.

Major Components of a Performance Improvement Plan

  • Intro. This is a document that will be shared with the employee, HR, and in wrongful termination lawsuits, the various legal teams. This means that you need to be professional and make it very clear about what kind of document it is. Here’s the bare minimum:
    • Company name (and logo)
    • Manager name, title, and department
    • Employee’s name, title, and department
    • Title clearly stating that the document is a Performance Improvement Plan
    • The duration of the plan (for example, 30 days)
    • Date created and delivered to employee
    • A high-level overview of the reason for this Performance Improvement Plan
  • Reasons and Past Examples. Explain each incident that happened to trigger the Performance Improvement Plan, why it is a problem, and when it happened.  It will be quite lengthy, especially since it needs to be accurate, detailed, and clear for you, the employee, and potential lawyers.  When you document everything you possibly can, you ensure that you cover all of your grounds and the employee is very clear as to what is wrong.
  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Clearly and objectively state what needs to be improved, such as restating the job description, or setting lower but more attainable goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based (aka S.M.A.R.T.) to help ensure that you’re not setting expectations that could push an employee to fail, which can put your business at risk for a wrong termination lawsuit.
  • Follow-ups.  Consistently checking in with the employee during a Performance Improvement Plan is an often forgotten component in most templates, since it’s difficult to track and manage.  We recommend checking in at least once per week, which gives the employee a platform to voice any concerns.
  • Possible Consequences.  Although we’re hoping the employees improves, it is very important to clearly state the consequences if they do not improve.  The severity of the consequence depends on the circumstance and can range from an additional Performance Improvement Plan to Termination.  Clarity in this section helps the employee understand what is at stake and drives home how their actions are affecting the company.

How does Bambee help with Performance Improvement Plans?

Bambee helps you with Performance Improvement Plans by taking the guesswork out of what’s required, when to follow-up, and communicating with all the right people. 

Try out Bambee for free to say goodbye to Performance Improvement Plan templates, and say hello to being a better manager. 

-The Bambee Team