January is also a good time to review a variety of human resources issues, as well as employee benefits and compensation issues. If you can carve out time, try to check these off your list, either as something that you have reviewed and are satisfied with or something that needs prompt, if not immediate attention.
Examine and revise your employee handbook: Whether your company has hundreds of employees or is just a small family operation, a functional employee handbook that everyone has read and agreed to is essential for optimal business functioning. Reread your employee handbook, and employ another reader, one who is well-versed in employment law. Make sure your employee handbook addresses changes in the Affordable Care Act (especially the aspects of mandatory health insurance), that it is up to date on your state’s Family and Medical Leave policies (as well as federal ones), and that the appropriate terminology is used regarding marriages and partnerships.
Create technology and social media rules for your business. Most likely, your employee handbook doesn’t go into enough detail on mobile technology, including what aspects of cell phones and computers belong to the corporation and what belong to employees. In addition, many companies are still behind the curve in developing proactive ways to deal with social media use on the job and depictions of corporate life on employees’ social media outlets.
Tighten up privacy regulations as required by law or good business sense. If your company is part of the health care system, how do you ensure that your employees do not inadvertently breach patient privacy (HIPAA) when they take a cute selfie at work? On a related front, be sure you have good technological fixes to backup files and disable stolen or lost devices so that they cannot be used to access client or patient information or sensitive financial information.Be particularly vigilant if employees use handheld devices to answer corporate email, as these client addresses need to be protected.
Review relevant wage and hour laws. Many states and municipalities have increased the minimum wage requirements for certain employment sectors or even universally. Under-age employment minimums have also increased in Michigan. Be sure you know exactly what the laws are.
Plan and implement management training for all of your executive team (and include middle management too) to be sure that everybody has the information that you have gathered. Often, there is a policy in place but the person who is dealing with that issue hasn’t been included in training or policy discussions. Be sure the training is direct, understandable and stimulating and that everybody walks away with clear, written information and the most recent iteration of the by-now revised handbook. Management training also offers the opportunity to practice hypotheticals regarding hiring, firing and retraining, as well as accommodation for various disability issues.
Distribute the revised employee handbook to all employees and obtain their dated signature indicating they have read the handbook.