I’d love to pat myself on the back and tell you that I created a 38-section employee handbook because I’m so organized, or because I have so much time on my hands. But that would not be the truth.
No, I created this massive collection of vital employee information because I was exhausted from answering the same questions over and over.
And even more so, because without this level of clarity and content, I was losing my best employees to other companies that had their act together.
If you’ve been in business for a little while, then you’ve no doubt experienced problems with employees. You may have built your business to deliver the very best landscape results, but I promise you that at some point, you WILL have to deal with employee problems.
The question then becomes, would you rather deal with the problem BEFORE it happens, or would you prefer to have a slick labor attorney grill you with questions from the stand? Sounds too severe you might ask? Think again!
Consider this…you hire ‘Bob’ to work for you because he tells you that he has years of experience and he used to run three installation crews. He tells you that he was the ‘second-in-command’ at his previous company but they failed to see his full potential. So you bring Bob on board and for a few weeks, everything is going great. That is until Bob asks about the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday. He wants to know if that will be a paid holiday? He also says that the crew would like to know if they are being paid as well. Now some of your guys just started a few months ago, while others have been with you for over a year.
What is your Holiday Pay Policy?
For that matter, what is your Vacation Time Policy? What is your Sick Day Policy?...See where I’m going with this?
See, it really stinks when you are put on the spot. Let’s take this all a step further and now consider that your new employee, Bob owes child support. One day you get to the office and open the mail, only to realize that YOU, as the employer, are responsible for enforcing a wage garnishment. And now you think to yourself that with everything you have to track and manage, this is the LAST thing you needed…but still, it’s your responsibility to know EXACTLY how this will be handled.
Let’s say six months has passed and Bob asks for more money. Now we ALL can agree that this is definitely a situation that you will encounter as an employer. In fact, these questions about pay and money seem to always come at the worst possible times right?
It’s almost as if your employees know, to the exact day, when your stress level is at its highest, or when you are completely overwhelmed with your workload, and they pick that time to ask for more money.
Wouldn’t it be a relief if you could refer them to their Employee Handbook, where you had performance and compensation review policies already outlined?
Think of the satisfaction you would have if you could offer a book of policies that addressed nearly all of the critical employee questions. Look, some surprises are fun, and some are downright miserable. Being prepared to know the answers to employee questions is every bit as critical as being prepared to answer questions your clients have.
Let’s take this example and say that Bob starts showing up late. You become disappointed with Bob’s performance and you decide to let him go. You breathe a sigh of relief because now, FINALLY, you can get back to focusing on your business, right? WRONG…because about 30 days later you receive a letter stating that Bob has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against you and claims you owe him for back vacation days, back holiday’s and lost overtime wages.
I wish at this point I could tell you that I’m being too dramatic but I’m not. I know this because I’ve seen firsthand how one rogue employee (often even more) can tear down a company.
A lawsuit from a past employee can drag out for months leaving YOU, as the owner, weary and tired.
Worse off, despite how “RIGHT” you may be, an opposing attorney will OWN YOU IN COURT if you do not have these (and more) policies clearly outlined.
See, an employee handbook is MUCH MUCH more than a simple document. It clearly defines your relationship with the employee. Do you know if your state has an “AT-WILL” policy? YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS!
What is your policy for handling:
Unpaid leave vs. Paid leave
And much more….
So your choice is simple…
You can either BE PROACTIVE and BE PREPARED with the answers to these questions, or you can be BLINDSIDED and have to stagger-step to answer these questions.
Now consider the flip-side of all of this. Meaning, consider how this FEELS to the new employee. Imagine going to work for a company that had this level of organization in place. Do you think this is “normal”…I don’t. Sadly, very few contractors run with this level of clear communication and organization. What a relief it must be to work for a company that doesn’t just “talk” about caring for employees, but actually PROVES they care. What a relief it must be for an employee to know EXACTLY how and when their performance will be reviewed.
See, with this Employee Handbook, you will quickly realize that you can ELIMINATE many of the nagging problems that exist in communication. You can be far better prepared to defend your company legally by having written policies in place. But beyond all that, YOU NOW HAVE A POWERFUL RECRUITING TOOL that can attract the best and the brightest employees in the industry. Your commitment to quality communication will show through from the very start.
Let’s face it, how do you like working for client’s that are disorganized or don’t know what they want or flip-flop on their answers? You probably don’t.
So you cannot reasonably expect people to enjoy working for you if you aren’t clear and if you seem to run by the seat of your pants.
This Employee Handbook will become the FOUNDATION of your documented policies. The best part is that nearly all of the hard work has been completed for you. This Handbook is a living document. It took YEARS of revisions and updates to get it to this point. It’s incredibly easy to modify and to customize. Simply add your logo and your company name and it is ready to be printed and shared with your employees.
This Employee Handbook can begin the process of changing the culture of your company. We hear that a lot in our business right? How a great company CULTURE is necessary for long-term and sustained success? Well, I can promise you that the companies with the best culture are also the companies with the best communication.
Your decision to distribute an Employee Handbook goes far beyond your desire to just eliminate headaches. It sets you up on the path to becoming the most valued landscape employer in your area.
It’s funny, we all know that we are out there, on the front lines, every day, competing for the best jobs. But we tend to forget that we are also competing for the best employees.
Make the decision now to not only be the best landscape provider, but also the best employer!!!
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