Best practice in Human Resource Management requires that orientation is conducted for new employees recruited into an organisation.
Beyond that, a new entrant is required to be given an Employee Handbook that contains adequate information about the organisation and the assigned job.
However, the provision of the handbook, which helps to prevent misunderstanding and workplace disputes, is woefully not practised in Ghana.
Usually, new employees in most organisations in Ghana are offered their appointment letters and are introduced to the staff, without in-depth information about the job and the organisation.
The employee handbook is a document that contains information about the company, a welcome letter from the president or CEO, the company’s mission, vision, purpose, values, and broad strategic goals, the company’s commitment to employees, code of conduct as well as non-disclosure and employee confidentiality agreements.
The handbook, which can be provided both physically and electronically to the new entrant, also summarises attendance expectations, define nonexempt and exempt employment statuses, cover severe weather closings, the use of company property, and anything else employees need to know. Most handbooks present employee compensation and benefits plus paid time off in detail and additional terms and conditions of employment
The employee handbook is also beneficial to the employer. It is used to provide a consistent set of policies and procedures within the company. It is also used to describe working conditions and the workplace behaviour and contributions expected from employees.
It is believed that by putting forth a shared approach to addressing workplace issues, they have the best potential to create a harmonious, fair, employee and employer supportive workplace.
Employers also use the policies in an employee handbook to provide the roadmap to an ethical and legal treatment of employees. They protect themselves from lawsuits, such as harassment claims, wrongful termination claims, and discrimination claims. Employee handbooks contain a code of conduct for employees that set guidelines around appropriate behaviour for the individual workplace.
Progressive discipline and procedures for making a complaint are also in most employee handbooks. This allows the employer to know that employees are informed about actions and behaviours that will warrant disciplinary action up to and including employment termination in their workplace.
An employee handbook can protect employers by clearly stating the policies and procedures that can prevent liability. If an employee has a dispute with his employer, he may try to use the employee handbook as leverage to prove deficiency on employer’s part. Courts may also consider employee handbook to be a binding contract, even if the employment relationship is at- will. A well-structured handbook can protect both the employee and the employer as it set forth certain rules and structures whenever an issue arises.
The handbook contains the procedures and strategies to be employed when disputes arise and the modes through which the dispute will be settled mostly through ADR or arbitration. This saves both the employer and employee from spending huge sums of money through litigation.
The handbook in the Ghanaian context would include the policies and measures to prevent employees from going through strikes and demonstrations and allow them to find amicable solutions to challenges and disputes without having to endanger the productivity of the company. However, company policies do differ from company to company.
It is believed that most employees do not receive employee handbooks at the start of a new job. Employers are content with the provision of contract letters, and most employees are complacent with it but are these really enough?
Do you have an employee handbook?
By: Fred Gadese-Mensah/adrdaily.com