Each new year brings new opportunities to review and update company policies and procedures. There's no better time to review the employee handbook for updates than in the period beginning Q4 of the current year, through Q1 of the coming year. With the ever-changing labor laws, regulations and dynamics within the workforce, an up-to-date employee handbook is a critical tool to help employees and employers navigate these changes with a shared point of reference.
This article will explore several key updates employers should consider for updating employee handbooks in 2024.
Work Policies: Remote, Hybrid, or Onsite?
As a byproduct of COVID-19, the remote and hybrid work models have persisted in 2023 and will continue to dominate the conversation in 2024. Most professionals agree that hybrid work is here to stay, and regardless of where your company stands, it's more important than ever for every organization to have policies and procedures surrounding hybrid, remote or in-person work clearly laid out in the employee handbook. No matter what work model your company has decided to adopt in this post-pandemic era, your employee handbook should address this issue in a formal manner. Provide clear guidelines on:
- Work model of your company
- Expectations for each group within the organization, especially for different employee classifications
- Communication protocols
- Guidelines for maintaining productivity while working outside the office
- Reporting structure
- Technology support
- Security guidelines
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is here to stay, and will continue to be a priority in the workplace in 2024. The employee handbook is a functional tool to detail policies for DEI. Consider providing guidelines around the following topics:
- Anti-discrimination policies
- Equal opportunity statements
- Information on DEI training programs
- A section explaining how to report harassment or discrimination incidents in the workplace and the process of addressing the issue
Clear policies on DEI can help maintain a respectful workplace, improve employee experience, and ultimately better retain and engage your workforce.
Mental Health & Employee Well-Being
Mental health and employee well being as a consideration in the workplace has gained momentum, especially in recent years and will continue to be a fucus heading into 2024. Employee's mental health has a direct correlation to overall job satisfaction and performance. Every organization should consider formalizing guidelines around the following areas:
- Anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation
- Workplace violence
- Reporting and communication policies
- Available professional Resources
- Clearly outlined employee benefits policy
- PTO and leave
COVID-19 and Health Safety Protocols
Although the COVID-19 feels like it's in the rearview window for most in the US, it’s still important to retain a section in your handbook about health and safety protocols. Beyond COVID-19 employees want to understand how their employer takes steps to protect their health and safety and by extension, that of their family. Consider the following information in your employee handbook:
- Vaccination policies
- Health screenings
- Procedures for addressing illness in the workplace
- Paid leave and sick leave
- Emergency response
- Communication policies
Review & Update Your Employee Handbook
In the modern, fast-paced workplace, keeping the company's employee handbook up to date is not just a best practice, it’s a necessity. In 2024 and beyond, companies should ensure that the employee handbook consistently and clearly reflects the priorities for the organization and expectations of their employees. It’s critical for compliance, and just as importantly, can strengthen your workplace and employee engagement by fostering a more transparent, inclusive, and adaptable work environment.