Employee handbooks aren’t just for suits in larger corporations. Human resources experts agree: They’re a necessary people management tool for busy home builders and remodelers, too.
What makes them so important? The primary idea of this document is to set your company’s policies and make it easier to comply with specific standards. But that’s just the beginning.
For small businesses – the kind operated by most home builders and remodelers – employee handbooks are just as important to operations as businesses housed in skyscrapers. It’s a record of truth – one that protects your people and business at the same time.
Here’s a detailed guide on why you need this document in the construction industry.
What is an employee handbook?
An employee handbook is an official document created by your construction company. While it isn’t legally necessary, it can be helpful across all niches – especially for those building homes.
The handbook specifies the rights and obligations of both your company and your employees. Many businesses even require their new hires to sign the handbook on day one. This proves the employee received and read the handbook and agrees with its conditions.
Sounds simple enough, right? Let’s dig deeper into why employee handbooks for construction companies are so important.
Why you need an employee handbook for a construction company
A construction business needs this document for any controversial situation that might emerge. Inherently, home builders run risk-heavy businesses. Accidents happen on job sites. Clients challenge costs. Weather and fire can damage projects just as they were near completion.
Here’s a more specific example of risk and where a handbook comes in hand: You might receive a lawsuit for wrongful termination by a former crew member. If they signed that they agree to honor the handbook, and you have proof they violated the conditions, you’ll have a strong argument against their claim.
For reasons like this, construction companies should specify as many details as possible in the handbook. You need to list what you expect from employees, such as:
- Not being late to work
- Terms for working overtime
- Benefits, including health insurance, 401(k), etc.
- Time off
- Performance review guidelines
A construction company employee handbook should be fair to all relevant parties while clearly stating their rights and obligations.
What are the reasons for creating an employee handbook?
This document is what you turn to if you encounter a company-related problem. As long as you wrote it properly, the handbook should clarify what to do in different situations. You should try to make the handbook engaging but focus on content quality first.
Also be concise and clarify any relevant company policies. However, employee handbooks are for more than solely risk coverage.
Here are additional reasons you should include an employee handbook in your onboarding process.
Specify your mission, vision and values
Most new workers already know a bit about your company. However, it doesn’t hurt to specify your mission and vision again. Why did you start this company? What makes you stand out from the competition? Are there certain rallying statements your entire team unifies under?
Additionally, don’t forget about the values and company cultures to honor. For example, you can specify it’s against the handbook to offend coworkers in any way or that employees conduct themselves with honor when wearing your business’ name and logo.
Educate employees on what to expect from management
The handbook should specify what you expect from employees – but that’s not all. It should also cover how leadership and management can help. For example, what are the steps for reporting a problem with a machine on the job site?
You should clarify the required working hours, payment times and other details, too. If you publish weekly schedules, mention when you’ll release them for the upcoming period. Or, if you use a construction software platform like Buildertrend, include expectations for use in your employee handbook.
A reliable handbook also contains tips on different leaves, such as jury service, family and medical. Don’t leave your team guessing – or let your company get taken advantage of – when it comes to time off.
Ensure consistent enforcement of company policies
No workplace is perfect, and an occasional conflict will arise. However, it’s important to secure consistency in resolving conflicts.
It shouldn’t be a decision based on the owner’s or anyone else’s estimation. Instead, you should have clear policies on behavior, conduct and other details. That ensures there are no surprises down the road. Then, whatever happens, you can turn to the handbook to resolve the issue.
Consider this important HR document your guiding light.
Showcase the benefits you offer
It’s not only about requiring things from employees but also giving something in return.
The benefits you provide could include paid parental leave, health insurance, vacations, etc. Apart from listing them, communicate how an employee can become eligible for each.
This is especially important now as the construction industry endures an ongoing labor shorage. Offering benefits and making it clear what opportunities are available are exactly what draws and retains top talent. An employee handbook allows you to communicate this competitive advantage on day one.
Ensure compliance with federal and state laws
An employee handbook can’t be above the law. On the contrary, it serves to guarantee compliance.
In the world of home building, there are often many regulations to follow. You might even consider hiring a legal professional to tell you more about mandates in your location. The laws vary, so having a reliable attorney in your corner is imperative. They can guarantee any potential requirements or penalties specified are in line with what’s required.
Assist in minimizing conflict
It can be a conflict between two workers but also one between the employee and the company. It’s not uncommon for former and current workers to file lawsuits against construction businesses.
The handbook is there to help you defend against those claims. It specifies what employees can and can’t do the moment they join the team and requires they sign to agree with the handbook’s terms.
How to create an employee handbook for your construction company
Because most home builders have slim legal expertise, it’s strongly advised to hire a professional when writing your employee handbook. An attorney can ensure you comply with all relevant laws. They can help define each item in the handbook properly, so there’s no room for wrong interpretation.
But first you need to decide which items to include in the handbook. The general information includes working hours, contract types and conditions, benefits for employees, etc. Of course, as mentioned, you should also cover any controversies that might arise.
It’s all about setting aside the time to create this important document. And, we know, every second counts as you balance projects with construction team management. To help, owners might delegate this task to other administrative staff.
The effort is worth it, though. Employee handbooks protect your company while building trust with staff and crew. They know what’s expected of them, pathways for success and that they’re part of something bigger than the job itself.
You don’t have to handle HR management alone
Employee handbooks are just the start of smart HR management. So, what else should you be doing? The leading construction tech and leading HR platform have partnered together to help teams like yours. Buildertrend and Gusto can help home builders, specialty contractors and remodelers manage their manpower.
Gusto makes it easy to pay and take care of your hardworking team. Even better, this system seamlessly integrates with Buildertrend.
Here’s what your team can do with Gusto on your side:
- Take the pain out of payroll
- Send Time Clock shifts from Buildertrend to Gusto. Time off and holidays are automatically calculated – no extra steps
- Help your team make the most of their paychecks
- Give employees resources to build a healthy and secure financial future
- Keep everyone happy and healthy
- Find health benefits that fit your team and budget – or easily move over your current plan