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What makes for a good personnel policy manual?

Whenever you enter into a relationship there is a chance, indeed a likelihood, that some level of disagreement will develop over something. It's only normal. The big question that has to be asked at the point something does arise is how the dispute will be resolved.

Coming up with appropriate solutions for resolving grievances can require a certain level of nuance when the dispute happens to be between an employer and the company's employees. Because of that, those in Texas experienced in employment law and litigation understand the value of developing a solid set of personnel policies.

These don't necessarily have to be written down, but most experts would agree that having an employee handbook is ideal for ensuring that all involved parties have the same basis of understanding about processes. Following are some thoughts from the Texas Workforce Commission about what goes into developing a workable employee policy manual.

It starts with you articulating the kind of culture you want to create within your workplace. Once you have that framed, you can use that vision as the foundation for explaining the goals and policies that follow.

Some wise person once said you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been. So the next recommended step is to assemble all existing policies -- verbal or written, perceived or real. Then you can decide which to keep or change.

Because you are dealing with personal relationships, the manual should reflect collaboration among all those affected. Have conversations with employees to find out what policy concerns they may have.

Once a first draft is written, have some key players review it and offer suggestions for changes. And, of course, you should have it reviewed by a skilled attorney to make sure the policies all comply with the law.

The final steps involve getting the manual into the hands of employees. Each worker should receive one and be given a chance to ask any questions he or she might have. It's also a good idea to confirm the transaction by having the employee sign and date a form acknowledging receipt. You should sign and date it, too. For added security, have a third company representative sign as a witness.

Such policy manuals are not required but represent a preventive measure that may help your company weather any employee issues that do surface.

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