Diverse and Engaged CEO Dee Marshall has noted that many companies don’t update their employee handbook as often as they should, and this seems to be the case among a variety of professions. With further employment laws coming into place in 2023, this is the perfect time for you to revamp your company’s employee handbook.
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1. The Staff handbook itself
While many of us have moved to digital, physical print has been proven to result in more successful learning and retention. As such, you may want to consider providing employees with a physical HR booklet that provides all the required information as well as a PDF document for ease of access. Staff handbook is non-contractual so you can change any procedures and policies deemed necessary without consulting employees but they should be reviewed annually according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
Some key topics that should be covered within the staff handbook are:
- Employer’s mission statement and information
- Data protection and privacy notices
- HR policies including maternity/paternity leave, flexible working, sickness and holiday
2. Hybrid and remote policies
This year, there is a big HR law change in the UK regarding hybrid and remote working. This type of work structure was fairly rare before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, after the majority of businesses moved to remote working policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees reported feeling happier and more productive. Human resource teams will need to be aware of the changes that are to come to ensure that the company is abiding by the law and implementing the new required practices.
The expected changes to come include:
- Flexible working requests as a right for employees
- Allowing employees to make two requests per year
- Reducing the time employers have to reply to the request from three to two months
Workers are now demanding more flexibility and even though we are in the midst of a recession, the inflexibility of businesses could still lead to employee resignations. As such, it is in the company’s best interest to refrain from being inflexible.
3. Well-being and mental health
With 93% of companies now offering mental health benefits of some kind in the workplace, it is clear that conversations around employee mental health and well-being are on the rise. For those without these kinds of company programmes, 2023 is likely to be a big year for implementation.
One key initiative that has been suggested to be introduced is a focus on financial well-being. Due to the cost of living crisis, which is set to continue long into 2023, companies should train their mental health first aiders to assist those who are struggling financially.
HR teams should focus on being able to provide interventions and resources for:
- Physical needs
- Mental needs
- Financial needs
Diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) is a pillar for business and HR strategies to ensure that companies focus on creating an inclusive workplace that drives innovation and growth. Not only are DEIB policies essential for the happiness and comfort of employees, but they are proven to contribute to a business’s overall performance. Workplaces that practice DEIB in relation to cognition, preference and identity have been found to display higher levels of effective and creative problem-solving, which again highlights the benefits of including DEIB in the workplace.
Some key areas where DEIB can be introduced are:
- Focusing on diversity in leadership roles
- Conducting regular performance reviews to allow the discussion of common biases including gender, ageism and the halo effect
- Support employee resource groups to build an inclusive culture
In the past few years, we have seen offices slowly move away from the once-renowned business wear to a more relaxed, casual dress code. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic and the move to online calls and meetings, comfortable clothes such as tracksuits have taken over wardrobes.
As such, employers may wish to consider updating their written policies regarding dress codes, for example, requesting no slogan jumpers during meetings with clients. This is likely to be useful company-wide as employees may have got into the habit of being remote workers and therefore not needing to ‘dress up’.
Employers should also consider any policies regarding ‘professional hair’ or ‘grooming’ that are race-based, in line with the Halo Code which aims to protect the rights of black employees. While hair discrimination is against the law in the UK 1 in 5 black women feel pressure to straighten their hair for work. When referring back to DEIB policies, it is clear that discussions need to happen within workplaces to ensure that employee rights are protected and that employees feel safe, comfortable and included.
While this is not an exhaustive list of policies that should be amended during your 2023 HR booklet update, hopefully, this has been a good starting point for your company. Overall, it is clear that the benefits of continually updated policies result in both employee happiness and company success through increased output and staff retention.
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