Why we need to rewrite the employee handbook

The post-pandemic era is witnessing a huge shift in the working models and mindset of employees

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There has been a drastic shift in the mindset of the employees and the employers when it comes to maintaining an employer-employee relationship, thanks to the lessons taught by the pandemic. It has become critical for all companies to revisit and re-examine their employee handbook.

An employee handbook is a compilation of all the rules pertaining to everything from attendance to benefits, compensation and the HR policies in a company. All HR leaders that HRKatha interacted with, agreed that there is a need for companies to revamp their employee manuals, since the post pandemic era looks way different than it did a couple of years ago.

Jayant Kumar, president – HR, Adani Ports & SEZ, states that the employee handbook is the manifestation of the employee – employer workplace engagement. Since the operating systems and working models have changed, there is definitely a need to rewrite this manual, and many firms will rewrite the same for sure.

“When leaders revisit their HR policies they should first see the impact of the new operating system on the workplace engagement of the organisation”

Jayant Kumar, president – HR, Adani Ports & SEZ

“When leaders revisit their HR policies they should first see the impact of the new operating system on the workplace engagement of the organisation,” advises Kumar.

Companies are advised to revisit their HR policies from time to time, ideally, at the end of every year.

All progressive companies do re-examine their employee handbook annually, since the laws of the land and even employee behaviour keep changing with time. The HR policies need to align with all such evolving aspects. Given the global impact the pandemic has had, all companies, big and small, have been forced to pore over their employee handbooks in earnest.

Before digging into the changes or the focus areas of these changes, it is essential for organisations to understand the pulse of the organisation.

Talking to HRKatha, Alex Augustine, chief people officer, WayCool Foods, shares that they have started the process of revisiting their HR policies and their handbook after the pandemic. However, they are ensuring that they get a feedback from the employees regarding the changes they are desirous of witnessing.

“We are evaluating our employee handbook and have begun with an employee survey to take feedback from the workforce on the basis of which changes will take place,” shares Augustine.

Important areas for change

Time and attendance: Since people have experienced that work can be done from home and in many roles organisations are still willing to allow remote-working options, rigidity in terms of time and attendance or even showing up at the workplace daily would change. There will be more flexibility. “I foresee many companies following the hybrid model, especially for tech roles,” says Augustine. If hybrid is really the future of work, then the whole purpose of a workplace will be reduced to serving as a hub for more collaborative activities, particularly in the tech and IR sector. In fact, Augustine reveals, “Flexibility has become a major differentiator for candidates when they look for jobs”.

“There will be more video calls and less travel for meetings”

Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CHRO,Bhilosa Group

Performance review: There will be a sea change in the performance-review system of an organisation. With remote work kicking in, employees working from locations away from the workplace will be judged on the outcome. Whether they work for five hours or nine, what will matter is the fact that the work gets done.

In fact, managers will be trained to review their peers who are not physically present in the office, so bias of any kind will be eliminated. “Employers may get leaner in terms of the number of hours the employees put in. It will be more about the end result. Even managers would be trained and sensitised on how to review their remote-working staff,” says Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CHRO,Bhilosa Group.

Employee wellness: As per HR leaders, there will be more emphasis on keeping employees healthy. Companies that can provide better health services and benefits to employees will definitely do it. In fact, many companies have updated their employee-wellness programmes, health benefits and other major offerings such as tie-ups with hospitals and doctors for free consultations. Mukherjee feels that there will be a huge shift in the wellness initiatives for not just the white-collared employees but also the blue-collared ones who do not have the privilege to work from home. “There will be reforms in the canteens of the workplaces, with companies investing in more healthy diets and products. In fact, this will also increase the cost of the canteen,” says Mukherjee.

Travel policies: Though face-to-face interactions will remain, the number of face-to- face meetings will reduce feels Mukherjee. For the initial conversation with the client or any other stakeholder, the virtual mode of conversations would be used. At the final and closing stage, face-to-face interactions will be required. “So, there will be more video calls and less travel for meetings,” points out Mukherjee.

“I would say that every sector has been impacted in some way or other, and changes will continue, even though they may vary from sector to sector”

Alex Augustine, chief people officer, WayCool Foods

IT governance: Since many employees would be expected to work remotely or follow a hybrid work model, data would be at risk. Companies were quick to realise this when during the complete lockdown. There will be employee guidelines and behaviours pertaining to the kind of data that can be shared, the platforms they can be shared on and with whom.

Surely, the pandemic did not impact all sectors the same way. There may be sectors that have been less impacted. For them, work continued as usualt, while for others, such as the IT sector, changes have been quite significant, including in he handbook.

“I would say that every sector has been impacted in some way or other, and changes will continue, even though they may vary from sector to sector,” says Augustine.

“I don’t see this from the lens of any particular sector or industry. My lens would be the progressiveness of the organisation. The one that are progressive and consider employees as major assets, will change,” asserts Kumar. Yes. There will be change, and hopefully, only for the better.

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