The Employee Handbook Distribution Process

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A landscaper from Michigan called me the other day to talk about her company’s employee handbook.  While revising the employee handbook was straightforward and successful, the landscaper took a cavalier approach to its distribution and more importantly, the process associated with receiving the signed Handbook Acknowledgment Form from every employee.  While well-intentioned, her approach was to simply distribute the employee handbooks as part of an ongoing event (e.g., safety tailgate meeting) and then have the employees drop off the signed acknowledgment forms to the main office sometime afterward.

In place of that haphazard plan, here is the annual employee handbook distribution process I proposed:

  1. Employee Handbooks are distributed through the management team to all employees.  Given that managers are responsible for supervising their staff and holding them accountable for policy compliance, it must be the managers, not the office staff, who hand deliver the employee handbook to each of their employees.
  2. Each Manager receives a payroll roster of his/her employees.  The Payroll Department must generate a roster of each Manager’s direct and indirect subordinates, based on the organizational chart, to alert each Manager of the number of employee handbooks that must be distributed and to whom.  As the employee handbooks are distributed, the Manager must put the date when each employee received the employee handbook, on that roster, next to the employee’s name, for documentation purposes.
  3. At the time of distribution, the Manager must inform each subordinate that the signed Employee Handbook Acknowledgement Forms must be returned to the Manager within one week.
  4. Each name on employee roster is exhausted to ensure 100% return rate.  Using the same roster as previously-mentioned in Step 2, the Manager documents the date the employee returns the Employee Handbook Acknowledgment Form to the Manager.   The Manager must not deliver the Employee Handbook Acknowledgment Forms to the main office until every one of the names on his/her roster has returned the Employee Handbook Acknowledgment Form.
  5. All signed Acknowledgment Forms are returned to the office for compliance check.  Once received from the Manager, the office then confirms that every employee has submitted a signed and dated, Employee Handbook Acknowledgment Form.
  6. The office then scans and files Handbook Acknowledgment Forms in every employee’s personnel file.

In much of the country, this process should be completed on all current employees by January 20th each year.  By the same token, those companies which close for the snow season should have this process completed on all returning employees within one week of beginning the landscape season.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 34 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.