The Pizza Insider: Why You Need an Employee Handbook

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why You Need an Employee Handbook



Here comes Kevin. Walking into work late again after he left the pizzeria early last night. His co-workers are tired of him making them stay late, but he never seems to get in trouble. 

Could the addition of an employee handbook solve this problem?

With an employee handbook in place, there's no arguing when it comes to vacation time, sick days and how many write ups it takes before a slacker gets fired. Without one, however, some pizzerias are taken over by aggressive employees who have a no-rules attitude.

Why Have a Handbook?

Many small business owners, including those running pizzerias like you, don’t feel there’s a need for an employee handbook. You may only have a few employees on staff, and everyone seems to follow the rules and get along. But, how are new employees trained? And what happens when questions about things such as maternity leave and disciplinary action arise? Handbooks do not need to be 40-page documents in order to be effective. Customized handbooks explaining specific policies and procedures for your pizzeria can be less than 10 pages and still work just as well to protect your business from any legal issues that may arise. Believe it or not, your employees crave information when it comes to company policies.

Employee handbooks should be considered a written agreement between you and your employees. It’s what you are providing to them, and what they are agreeing to in return. It’s an ever-changing document that should be updated as your pizzeria changes, and both new and existing employees should review it yearly.

An employee handbook is more than just sick day and vacation policies. It can walk pizza makers step-by-step through the dough making process or show customer service personnel how to greet customers. It can be a road map to more profits for your business when used creatively. You undoubtedly have systems in place already; putting them in writing and ensuring that everyone is on the same page can only help to grow your business.

Compiling Your Contents

While every pizzeria's handbook will be different, you will want to introduce the book with a letter from the owner or manager, welcoming new employees and/or explaining the concept of the handbook and why you feel it’s important. 

For the bulk of the handbook, start by compiling a list of your pizzeria’s problem areas and putting these topics up front. Do you have issues with tardiness, dress code, etc.? Focus on these topics first and foremost, and add the supplemental topics, such as sick and vacation time, last. In between, go over the systems and operations that are most important to your pizzeria.

Getting Assistance

There are tons of employee handbook examples online that you can download and customize to your needs. A simple online search will turn up more than you’ll ever need; but be cautioned that most of these will be very generic. In addition, you'll want to seek legal assistance when it comes to drawing up forms for your handbook that include disclaimers about at-will employment; equal opportunity employment; non-harassment/non-discrimination complaint procedures; and an employee’s signed acknowledgment of receiving the handbook.

Creating and maintaining an employee handbook does not have to be a daunting task. They’re designed to make your life easier by protecting your pizzeria and your employees, while also helping to ensure consistent systems and operations. 

If you don’t already have one, consider how it can change the dynamic of your business, and if you have one that hasn’t been updated in a few years, now’s the perfect time to refresh it.

Do you have an employee handbook? Tell me how it helps your pizzeria in the comments below.

--Liz 


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