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Steve Marr Blog

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Jan 20

Read the Employee Manual Carefully

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I know many people never read their employee handbook.  Instead they only dig into it if they’re unhappy about something and want to prove their point.

Any new employee, at any level in a corporation, should read and make sure they understand the employee handbook. Here are four reasons why this is important. 

1.      The handbook communicates the dress code and other behavioral standards.

Employees need to understand what the business expects in terms of personal behavior and dress code. No manager should have to explain to a new employee why behavior or dress needs to change.   No one should have to tell a new hire that cell phones should not be used during working hours. Whenever a manager needs to coach an employee on something covered in the handbook, they put a check mark by your name.

2.  The handbook explains employee responsibilities.

For example, in a damage restoration business I’m involved with; all employees understand that they can be scheduled for on-call work at night or on weekends, if necessary.  When an employee is scheduled, I don’t want to hear they went deer hunting and can’t fulfill their commitment. 

3.  The handbook shares the culture of the workplace.

Every business has a structure and culture.  A good place for any employee to understand what it is comes by carefully reviewing the personnel handbook. You should review the manual in advance because you may learn something you don’t wish to follow. For example, if you’re responsible for young children and need to be available during the workday for issues that come up, and the company has a clear policy that person phone calls are not permitted during work hours; maybe you don’t want to take the job.

4. The handbook covers more than what is shared in training.

There will always be fine print that isn’t covered during training.  If you want to start off as a model employee, know what the training session didn’t tell you.  Besides, If a manager corrects you for something not in the employee handbook, you’ll know it.  Then, you can use the I-didn’t-know defense.  Of course, that defense only works one time. 

Paul wrote, “Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor's crown except by competing according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5 NIV) In an organization you need to ensure you understand the rules in advance. Read the employee handbook.

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