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If creating (or updating) your agent handbook feels added like a assignment than an opportunity, you may appetite to amend your approach.



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“I anticipate a lot of companies anticipate of (writing a handbook) as torture, but they don’t accept to be that onerous. They don’t accept to be that difficult. And they don’t accept to be that time-consuming,” says Christine Soderlund, buyer of Soderlund Enterprises, a aptitude accretion and cardinal sourcing company.

Done correctly, an agent handbook offers a absolute aboriginal befalling for your close to outline and allotment a faculty of your aggregation culture, ethics and goals – not to acknowledgment accouterment advisers an calmly attainable ability that answers accepted questions about acquittal procedures, requesting vacation time, abode agreement and abundant more.



Here, we action a few strategies for crafting an agent handbook that’s both convenient and engaging, while still including all the all-important advice for your accepted and admission employees.

There are no laws acute a business to accept an agent handbook, Soderlund says. But, if you don’t, you’re authoritative a misstep.



Think of your agent handbook as an capital colonnade in the accord you’re architecture with your new employees, says Jason Drent, administering administrator at DJ’s Landscape Administration in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “In affiliation with the job description and action letter, a handbook helps body a clear, constant foundation for a advantageous employer-employee relationship,” he says.

In accession to its role as a relationship-building tool, the handbook can additionally serve to allay questions or disputes about abode policies, generally afore they happen. As such, it can “protect (both) advisers and the business from misperceptions, miscommunications, and the abeyant for lawsuits,” Soderlund says.

A crisp handbook outlines not aloof regulations for employees, but additionally their allowances and protections, from how to appeal afflication leave to what to do if they’ve faced abode harassment. In that way, it offers “not aloof rules, but additionally aegis to the employee,” says James Hornung Jr., admiral of Elbers Landscape Service in Buffalo, New York.

Having a professional, agreeable handbook that acutely articulates agent benefits, including acquittal schedules, vacation leave and added can advice analyze your close from competitors after one. In a boxy job market, it can be an important key to adorable and application accomplished employees, Hornung says.

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You’ll appetite to assignment with experts from your animal assets and acknowledged teams back drafting your agent handbook to ensure it includes all the advice your close may be accurately appropriate to share. These are based on federal, accompaniment and bounded requirements for businesses of your admeasurement and in your location. While no federal guidelines crave companies to accept an agent handbook, administration may be answerable – depending on applicative statutes – to acquaint advisers in autograph about their rights apropos issues such as ancestors medical leave, according employment, non-discrimination policies, animal aggravation and worker’s compensation, for example.

When alive with your team, there’s no charge to body your agent handbook from blemish back templates are broadly available. Hornung outsources his amount and animal assets administration to an HR solutions compan, and accordingly receives templates and abetment in crafting his firm’s handbook via their HR experts.

Drent has acclimated templates and agent handbook builders accessible to associates of the Society for Animal Ability Administration (SHRM). Guidelines are additionally generally accessible via industry barter associations, says Hornung, who is a affiliate of the Sports Turf Managers Association and the New York Accompaniment Nursery & Landscape Association, amid others.

These templates can be accessible in accouterment a framework of advice that you’ll acceptable appetite to include, including sections to abode basics such as: definitions of agent types (full-time, part-time, and seasonal); appearance policies; assignment hours, circadian break and overtime procedures; abode safety; and an outline of agent benefits, including vacation, ailing time, family-medical leave, board assignment and worker’s compensation.

In accession to these accepted categories, be abiding to additionally accommodate specific abode behavior of your firm, whatever those may be. DJ’s Landscape Management’s agent handbook has a area on its drug-free and smoke-free policies, which prohibit smoker on applicant backdrop or in aggregation vehicles.

Similarly, Elbers includes specific guidelines about use of aggregation corpuscle phones and aggregation vehicles, as able-bodied as able compatible accoutrements and amusing media usage, including a brake on announcement advantaged business advice online. “Often, back an agent accomplish out of line, it’s not malicious. It’s aloof due to abridgement of awareness,” Hornung says. “So, we try to action the handbook during our onboarding action and again analysis it with our advisers seasonally to advice with that advancing apprenticeship process.”

Begin your handbook with a acceptable letter from your aggregation buyer or CEO to allotment “basics about the amount amount and mission of the organization,” Hornung says.

Having a mission account at the advanced of the handbook is essential, Soderlund says. And while this ability complete alarming at first, Soderlund makes the assignment attainable for her audience by allurement them to explain why advisers should appetite to assignment for them instead of their competitors bottomward the street.

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While it’s important to awning all the basics, you appetite the end artefact to be “as blunt as possible,” Drent says. “You appetite no added or beneath than what’s needed, so that your advisers embrace the handbook as a resource.”

Soderlund agrees. “If you’re putting out a long, telephone-book-like certificate that bodies will not apprehend or use, that absolutely doesn’t advice anyone. You appetite to accomplish it article that bodies absolutely appetite to apprehend and appoint with,” she says.

But how do you accomplish an agent handbook engaging?

Start with what you’re calling it, Soderlund says. “The appellation ‘employee handbook’ makes you anticipate of a long, boring, hard-to-read set of instructions. Calling your agent handbook article abroad – like “Team guide” or “How things assignment at our company” – offers a beginning befalling to acquaint your aggregation story, what it is and why others should care,” she says.

Add in sections that highlight the ability of your workplace. Do you action bonuses back advisers accept their CLT or IPM certifications? “Talk about that,” Soderlund says. “Find means to acquaint how a job with your close is added than aloof a paycheck.”

Update your agent handbook – or aggregation adviser – at atomic annually and accede authoritative its actualization a fun accident for employees. Soderlund says a agents barbecue or morning coffee and bagel acquisition could work.

At the event, add in abbreviate Q&A contests with simple award-winning assets to see if advisers accept apprehend and accept new changes to the document. “You could duke out $5 allowance cards or new aggregation swag to winners,” Soderlund says. “You don’t accept to absorb a lot of money, but it’s a way of carrying to your employees, ‘We affliction about you, and we appetite you to apperceive this’ in a abundant added agreeable way than accepting a administrator artlessly say, ‘Read this.’”

At Elbers, new advisers are alien to their handbook in a contiguous acclimatization with their administrator or foreman, who reviews and draws absorption to sections the close deems best significant. “That gives you the befalling to highlight the things that are absolutely important with the new aggregation member,” Drent says. “We feel like if we’re alleviative (the handbook) as a admired ability and abutting it that way, again the advisers are abundant added acceptable to amusement it the aforementioned way.”

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You’ll appetite to accomplish professionally translated Spanish or added non-English versions of your handbook accessible to agents associates for whom English is a added language, so that all advisers are on the aforementioned page. Similarly, all agents associates – whether full-time, part-time, or seasonal/H-2B – should be provided with a archetype of the handbook aloft hiring.

If you use H-2B employees, add a area accoutrement your firm’s H-2B action (ensuring that it mirrors U.S. Department of Labor policies), as able-bodied as specifics on timing of hiring and rights and allowances provided to temporary, non-agricultural workers, Soderlund says.

If you accept additional, specific capacity to allotment alone with H-2B advisers – such as advice about admission to apartment or busline – you could accommodate those on a abstracted document, as Drent does.

And, while you’ll appetite to accommodate some basal advice on assurance protocols in your agent handbook, you may appetite to accommodate added specific guidelines on abode assurance procedures in a separate, committed assurance handbook, as Hornung does.

Finally, to advice ensure that your handbook becomes a certificate that your advisers absolutely apprehend and use, accord some anticipation and affliction to the presentation of the handbook itself. “If it’s presented in a actual formal, dry way, it’s not activity to be received,” Soderlund says. “Thanks to amusing media and the means we acquaint now, these abstracts can be created in a little bit added attainable way than they acclimated to be.”

Guidelines surrounding animal assets and application behavior can change from year to year – on both the accompaniment and federal level. To advice your agent handbook break in accompany with these action changes, accede subscribing to email alerts from the Department of Labor, your state-specific or industry-specific application associations, and/or animal assets associations like SHRM, Drent says.

“There will be some coursing involved, but it’s a acceptable way to accomplish abiding you’re not missing those changes as they come,” he says.

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