Originally Published: May 7, 2011 9:55 p.m.
Question: I have a fairly new small restaurant, and I would like some human resources advice on providing policies for my employees.
Answer: The Small Business Association (SBA)'s website, www.sba.gov, says, "An employee handbook is the most important communication tool between you and your employees. A well-written handbook sets forth your expectations for your employees, and describes what they can expect from your company. An employee handbook should describe your legal obligations as an employer, and your employees' rights."
According to the SBA, the most effective employee handbooks cover the following subjects: non-disclosure agreements, anti-discrimination policies, compensation, work schedules, standards of conduct, general employment information, safety, technology, media relations, employee benefits and leave policy.
One of our SCORE clients provided us with a list of employee standards that we feel is excellent and can be applied to almost any type of business. Below is a short list that should help you begin standardizing your policies.
Dress code: Clothing should be neat and clean. The type of business you operate should determine if the dress code is business, business casual, or requires a uniform. Makeup should be in good taste and not heavy or unusual. Hair should be clean, neat, and, in the case of a restaurant, properly tied back. Body piercings must not be visible.
Customer satisfaction: Cover a possible range of customer complaints with your employees. If an apology and a sincere effort from your employee doesn't satisfy your customer, either the manager or you personally should handle the situation. Remember, regardless of who is right or wrong, the customer's opinion of how the situation was handled will determine their repeat business.
Consistency and teamwork: Make sure your employees understand that these are a necessity and provide instruction on what you expect. Working toward the end result of providing excellent service benefits both your employee and your business.
Time off: We all require time off for various reasons. Insist your employees understand that, barring a real emergency, this must be arranged in advance. Make sure your company's leave policies are carefully documented, especially those you are required to provide by law.
To make things simpler, there are several websites that provide templates for employee handbooks for very reasonable fees.
Also, don't forget your SCORE counselor. SCORE's business is helping the small businessperson succeed, and employee policies are an important aspect of success.
Register now for the next session of SCORE's six-part Business Plan Workshop that begins June 1. Cost of the series is $90 for two participants from a single business. Contact Northern Arizona SCORE at 928-778-7438 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.scorenaz.org.