I wrote this for my blog but wanted to share it here with everyone.... When you own a lawn and landscape business, no matter how big or small, things that relate to HR are usually pushed down the list of priorities simply because you are so busy. Many business owners in this industry "wing it" when it comes to their employees. Interestingly enough, whenever you read a state of the industry report, or in general when I talk to business owners all over the country, the biggest issue is always the same - finding, hiring and keeping good employees. Yes, consumer confidence, fuel prices and low-ballers are also frequently mentioned, but never as often or as consistently as "labor". That being said, how do you turn this around? How do you create a culture within your organization that is beneficial, positive, and organized? An employee handbook is the best start. If your employees know from the very beginning what to expect from their employment, what you expect from them, how things work within your company, how to handle situations that arise, and how to remain safe, you have a big advantage over those companies that avoid this practice. Below are 5 excellent reasons you should have an employee handbook: 1. Prevention and protection from legal liabilities: Employee handbooks are a vital way to help reduce legal responsibility and protect companies against an employees claims in court on matters ranging from harassment to employee mistreatment. Handbooks are often considered a contractual obligation in court, and thus should not only be carefully worded, but also updated annually to stay compliant with company and government regulations. 2. Tangible guidelines: By having a concrete list of business policies and expectations that are clear and unambiguous, an employee handbook allows for neutral and objective treatment. Statements of acceptable and expected behavior from both employees and employers, along with regulations and procedures located all in one book, provide a common, physical source for everyone within a business to refer to. 3. Minimize employee and employer misunderstandings: The employee handbook can become an important communication tool between a business and its employees. Many companies require their employees to sign an agreement stating they have received and read their employee handbook, which allows for everyone to be on the same page regarding uniform policies. Specifications on workplace expectations and directives allow both employers and employees to practice accordingly, which may help reduce many disputes. 4. Provide a comprehensive answer to frequently asked questions to save time and money: Instead of having to repeatedly answer the same questions to employees, from a companys mission statement to its provided benefits to its disciplinary regulations, an employee handbook will take care of that problem for you. Not only will a small business be able to save both time and money, employers can also be rest assured that everyone will be receiving the same information. 5. Create an overall better working environment: An employee handbook stating a businesss guidelines on employee benefits, bonus programs, attendance rules and many other points that project a companys culture will affect the overall office environment. A company managed with unbiased and reliable rules will foster greater employee satisfaction, leading to an increase in efficiency and productivity.