Workplace Resolutions for 2016

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By Stephanie Hammerwold

Last week I wrote about my workplace Christmas list, so it seems fitting that I tackled some resolutions for the new year this week. January 1 is always a good time to look forward and figure out how to make things better, and this year’s list includes some things you can implement in your own workplace.

Review & Update the Employee Handbook

I have been helping several clients with handbooks recently, so perhaps that is why this is at the top of my list. Take a moment right now and dust off your employee handbook. What is the date on it? If you answered anything prior to 2015, your handbook is overdue for an update. If you answered, “What handbook?” then make a resolution to create an employee handbook.

The best practice is to review your handbook each year. Many laws go into effect at the beginning of the year, so reviewing your handbook around the new year is a good idea. Make changes and add policies in accordance with legal requirements. When reading policies, also pay particular attention to current practice in your workplace. Do your policies match how you do business?

This is a good reminder that businesses of all sizes should have a handbook. A handbook is an excellent way to communicate expectations and requirements to employees, and it also gives you written proof that policies were communicated to employees. Even for a company with only a few employees, having a handbook builds a good foundation as your business grows and adds people.

Provide Paid Sick Leave to All Employees

In 2015, California’s paid sick leave law went into effect, which brought paid sick leave to many employees who did not previously receive it. The law is a huge boon for those in the food service industry and other jobs that have not historically received such a benefit. Paid sick leave benefits all of us in that it reduces the chance that someone will show up to work sick and spread their illness. Who wants a server to be coughing as they bring meals to a table because they could not afford to take a day off of work unpaid in order to rest?

In his State of the Union address in early 2015, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a bill that would require paid sick leave for employees, so this benefit is getting a lot of attention. Even if you are not in a state or area that requires paid sick leave, make a resolution to add paid sick leave to your benefits for all employees. No one enjoys being at work when ill, so make it easy for employees to take the time off to rest and recuperate.

Improve Employee Benefits

Sticking with the theme of benefits, make a resolution to update your benefits package. Talk to employees and find out what benefits they want. Benefits are more than just insurance and can include things like discounts, incentive programs caregiver assistance, education assistance, a wellness program, paying employees to volunteer and more. As unemployment decreases, attracting top candidates becomes more important. Having a good benefits package will make it more likely that a candidate will accept your job offer over another company’s offer.

There is no denying that treating employees well helps with retention, productivity and morale. Benefits are a good way to show employees that you appreciate and value their work. Having generous paid time off policies and other perks help to ensure employees are enjoying life outside of work, which will help reduce burnout and stress.

Remember that there is more to Life than Work

Finally, remember that there is more to life than work. Many people work insane schedules. We get so wrapped up in our work identities that it seems to be all we are, and it can infringe on time with friends and family and time doing the things we love. Take some time in the new year to remember that you are more than your job. Even if you have to block it off on your calendar, make time for the things you enjoy, whether that is spending time with your favorite people or even just curling up with a good book.

Happy New Year!