- Employers’ top handbook challenge is getting employees to read it, according to Oct. 20 survey results from XpertHR.
- In a survey of 619 U.S. employers, 66% of respondents said they found it "somewhat" or "very" challenging to get employees to read handbooks. Other top-rated challenges included keeping the handbook compliant with state laws and training managers to enforce its rules.
- The survey also found that HR departments generally create their own handbooks, usually with review by a lawyer. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had only a modest effect on the content of employee handbooks, XpertHR said in a press release. Only 27% said they made pandemic-related changes, with provisions often concerning health and safety, telework, paid leave and flexible working arrangements.
HR has long struggled with employee communications, but there are several ways employers can get workers’ attention. In preparing for a virtual open enrollment season, for example, sources previously told HR Dive they recommend employers communicate often; personalize and target messages; and use a variety of employee-facing tools.
And while fewer than one-third of respondents in the XpertHR poll said they made pandemic-related changes to their handbooks, experts say HR may need to update some employer policies — at least temporarily.
"Some clients are asking if they need to make a full set of comprehensive changes," Susan Gross Sholinsky, member of the firm at Epstein Becker Green, previously told HR Dive. As clients consider whether to make changes to a handbook or introduce a separate set of policies specific to current challenges, "we're leaning toward the second," she said.
Take pandemic-related paid leave laws, for example, added Bruce Sarchet, shareholder at Littler Mendelson. They’re "probably the most significant development in HR in the last 12 months," but their temporary nature means most employers won't directly change their handbooks to reflect the provisions. Health and safety policies, however, may be here to stay. "We are going to see most larger businesses putting more and more in their handbooks on workplace safety in general," Sarchet said. "That's not going away."