There used to be a locally-owned office supply store in downtown Jackson. I bought a lot of stuff from them over the years. They had a storefront but most of their business was done by phone from their catalog. I’d call in an order today and it would be delivered to the store tomorrow. I loved going in their store even though the selection in stock was only a tiny fraction of their available merchandise.
One thing they always had in stock was three-ring binders. I bought several of them every fall to put together my Team Member Handbooks for the new hires. I spent the better part of a day prepping these books for my new employees (until I finally learned how to delegate this task).
THE WRITTEN HANDBOOK
The written handbook was the basis of the binder and consisted of five sections:
- Store Procedures
- Evaluation Process
Policies included all of the policies of employment including dress code, terms of employment, employment status (full-time, part-time, etc), vacation and holiday pay, sick leave, tornado warnings, and anything else related to them being an employee.
Store Procedures included all of our major services like free gift-wrapping, delivery, assembly, UPS shipping, etc. It gave explanations of how to offer and perform these services, including guidelines for each one.
Layaway was such a large and detailed service that it garnered its own chapter in the book.
Evaluation Process talked about the criteria by which an employee would be evaluated. (Note: this one should be screened by an attorney familiar with HR laws.)
Addendum was a color copy of the major forms we used with detailed instruction how to fill them out. I also included our delivery map and delivery service guidelines here.
You’ll notice there wasn’t a section for Cash Register. The instruction book that came with our cash registers was thicker than the 1-inch binders I used for the Team Member Handbook and would have been too costly (and pointless) to reproduce for the Handbook so we left it out and kept it as a separate book.
The purpose of all this information was to make sure everything was spelled out not just for the employee’s sake, but for our sake as well. It helped make sure we treated everyone fairly and equally within the guidelines of the law.
I am a huge fan of having such a handbook for your employees. It helps clear up confusion and solve disputes—as long as you follow what is written in your handbook. I had an attendee in one presentation tell me his attorney friend makes a living suing businesses because of their handbooks. Those lawsuits are almost always when a company doesn’t follow its own rules. I advised this guy to hire his attorney friend to review his handbook. That would ensure the handbook was crafted within the laws and that his buddy could never be the one to sue him.
I’ll give you the same advice …
Have a lawyer familiar with HR Laws review your Handbook before you publish it.
We had seven different brochures that we handed to customers over the years. With each new hire I made sure there was a copy of all of the current brochures in the back pocket of the binder. As I sat down with new hires the first day, I would show them each brochure and tell them since customers were reading these it was important that they knew what each brochure said.
(Here is a link to three of those brochures from the Toy House website.)
In the back pocket, along with the Brochures, I printed out three eBooks that customers could also download for free from our website titled:
These fully explained our philosophy on toys, including why we sold what we sold. These documents, more than anything else, helped teach our staff how to find the best solutions for our customers time and time again.
If you have a different philosophy than your competitors for why you sell what you sell, you need to have a vehicle for sharing that with your customers. It might turn some people off, but for everyone else it creates a higher level of trust and loyalty. Just make sure your new hires know this philosophy right away, too.
I also included an article I wrote about why I believe in Santa. I wanted my new hires to better understand me and our store’s official position on the jolly old elf.
The front pocket contained the paperwork including:
- IRS W-4 Form
- Parking Lot Map with assigned parking spot
- A key to the employee entry door
- Employee Training Checklist
- Employee Handbook Reading Slip
The first four are fairly self-explanatory.
The Training Checklist was a worksheet with all of the areas of necessary training the seasonal employee needed to complete. Each section had a blank line in front of it. As one of my regulars taught the new person a skill, the veteran would initial the line next to that skill. That way, if the new person didn’t have a skill down to my satisfaction, I could go back to the employee who trained him or her to see how to improve the training. (Page 3 of this pdf is a copy of an older version of that Training Checklist)
The Employee Handbook Reading Slip was a half-page piece of paper with the following paragraph …
I acknowledge that I have read the Toy House Team Member Handbook and understand its provisions. I understand and acknowledge that my employment at Toy House, Inc. is indefinite and for no specified length of time. I understand and acknowledge that my employment can be terminated at-will by myself or by Toy House, Inc. for any or no reason, with or without previous notice.
I know that this handbook is not a contract of employment and that its provisions are subject to change. I will ask questions about any issues or areas I do not understand.
Name___________________ Signature____________________________ Date_____________
I paid my employees an extra hour of pay for reading their Team Member Handbook and signing this piece of paper. Yes, I quizzed them on its contents. I even played a little game. In each section of the Written Handbook I hid little symbols like this ⊗. If they found all of them and included the section and page numbers on the signed piece of paper, I gave them an extra half-hour of pay. (Hey, it was a toy store. Of course we played games. And this game ensured that, if nothing else, they looked at every page in the book!)
Anyone in education knows that people have different preferred styles of learning. Some learn better by reading. Some learn better by seeing. Some learn better by doing. I made sure my new hires got all three.
The Holiday Season is your time to shine. Make sure your new hires are up to that task. Give them the tools they need. Your Training Packet is an important tool in that toolbox.
PS If you would like a word doc copy of the first two sections of my written handbook, shoot me an email. As I said before, however, before you use it for yourself (with modifications, of course) please have an attorney look it over. Times change. Different states have different rules. Different cities have different rules, too. Most importantly, don’t publish any rules you don’t intend to follow.