Author Topic: If you could write your own employee handbook...  (Read 8625 times)

Sparafusile

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If you could write your own employee handbook...
« on: August 12, 2015, 08:48:35 PM »
Six months ago I was working for "The Man". Then my own business took off and I left to work for myself full time. Since then, my partner and I have doubled our client load (and gross income) and now I'm facing the very real possibility of becoming "The Man" with my own employees. It's all very exciting and also very new for me. I've started thinking about what sort of policies I would put in place once I have employees by reading what other companies do, but I wanted to get some feedback from real people.

Some background: my business is software based so I would be hiring professional "sit in front of a computer and type all day" kinds of people. We don't have an office so all work will be done remotely. Obviously I wont be able to provide free meals every day (a la Google) or enforce a dress code, but other things like vacation, maternity leave, retirement, training, etc I can control.

So my question is, if you were working for the perfect employer, what would be in the employee handbook as far as policies and benefits? My goal is attracting and keeping top notch talent.
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RyanAtTanagra

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 09:22:25 PM »
Vacation/retirement/etc benefits are pretty straight forward, but since it's remote work, having flex hours would also be a big bonus imo.  That would let people run errands in the middle of the day if needed and finish up later in the evening.

My past two jobs have provided me with a laptop since I often have to work from home (on-call IT).  I consider that a great benefit as I haven't owned or had to buy my own computer in years.  Current job also pays for my internet for the same reason.  Yearly value isn't incredibly high, but it's nice.  Since they're working from home that could be justified.

Paul der Krake

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 09:47:21 PM »
Flex time.
Result-driven objectives.
401k.
HSA.
Force people to take their vacation.
A budget to buy educational resources, even modest like $100 per year.

Oh, and decent pay too.

What kind of work would it be? :)

LeRainDrop

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 10:14:53 PM »
Just one of the many sample employee handbooks I found from google searching:  https://www.nfib.com/documents/pdf/faststart/model-employee-handbook.pdf

Sparafusile

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2015, 07:07:16 AM »
Let me clarify a little bit. I do know how to write an employee handbook. I'm fortunately enough to have a family member that working in the HR department of a university for most of her professional career that has offered to help me. I've got the mechanics of writing one well covered.

What I'm wondering is, is there anything I could put in it that would make you, as an employee, think "wow" and never want to work anywhere else again? A couple examples I found are:

  • A lot of companies are offering unlimited vacation. Want to hike the Camino or write a book?
  • I've heard of a few companies that offer a 401k match, but what if it was a 100% match up to the limit?
  • Gore doesn't have a typical employee hierarchy. Instead they are all pretty much equal without a boss. Would this be appealing?

My primary objective would be to hire software engineers. Working remotely, it would be flex time and results-driven (since I may rarely see them face-to-face), and high paying.
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Paul der Krake

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2015, 08:22:38 AM »
  • A lot of companies are offering unlimited vacation. Want to hike the Camino or write a book?
My first job (also in software) offered unlimited vacation. It's a gimmick, and very hard to justify taking more than what's considered "acceptable". And of course everyone is on their toes watching what others are doing in terms of vacation time, which creates a race to the bottom for what is "acceptable". I hated it.

I'm sure there are tons of excellent devs swayed by free meals and ping pong tables, but they probably don't hang out on this forum. At the end of the day I just want satisfying projects and the ability to not think about work outside of work hours.

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2015, 08:43:32 AM »
Flex time for sure. That is the number one thing (other than salary) that I look for when looking for a job. I live in the city with the #1 worst traffic in America, so having a job with a flex schedule as made my commute bearable. (My commute is also only 6 miles, and my husbands is 5 miles). My current job has core hours in which you need to be working (9-3) and then you can tack on the additional 2 hours whenever you like. We also get 1-2 days a week that we get to work from home.
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Andrew928

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2015, 08:55:12 AM »
Damn dude, you hiring? This place sounds awesome
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robartsd

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2015, 09:17:44 AM »
One thing that could bite you on the idea of 100% 401(k) match up to the limit is that non-mustachian employees could see that as limiting their access to their compensation. I certainly you want to choose a great 401(k) option (Vanguard) and provide a match, but too much of a match could backfire (some employees would wish you provided more salary instead).

marcela

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2015, 09:27:00 AM »
Unlimited vacation plus forced time off. Where I work gives us 35 days off a year and also the days between christmas and new year's the office is closed and you are not supposed to come in.
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AlwaysLearningToSave

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2015, 09:55:48 AM »
I agree that unlimited vacation at best seems like a gimmick and at worst is downright disingenuous.  Plus, I think it would be difficult to manage in smaller businesses.  I think a better route would be to provide generous vacation day allotments and require employees to use it.  Then the employee can feel confident that it is okay to take the time.

401(k) match to the limit would be awesome.  I would think it would also function as a tool that would result in self-selection of fiscally responsible employees.  You would need to tout the benefit of it, though, because some people might balk at a lower salary/wage that is necessary to provide such a benefit.

Carefully review your health insurance offerings, if any, to ensure you provide reasonable and fair options that will work for various life situations.  The way my employer structures its health insurance arrangements is a big source of frustration for me because both the employer and I are spending way too much money compared to what I could get in the individual marketplace for my young, healthy, small family.  I'm sure other older, less health employees with larger families come out ahead but my employer does not offer an arrangement that provides employees like me a good value. 

Flexible scheduling is nice and probably a must considering the way you will structure the business as a remote-only workplace. 

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2015, 10:02:05 AM »
One innovative idea I encountered was a friend's sick leave / vacation option.  She worked as a teacher in a public school system.  Schools are generally rigid in their vacation policies because teachers already get summers/holidays off and it takes effort and expense to provide substitutes when teachers are gone, so this may or may not be applicable to your business.  This school system offered a choice: Option one was a number of vacation days plus a number of sick days.  Option one provided the greatest total number of days off if all were used, but the sick days are obviously restricted to use for certain approved reasons.  Option two was a smaller total number of days, but they could be used for any reason, so the employee could have more "vacation days" under the second arrangement. 

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2015, 11:37:35 AM »
From a financial perspective, here's what I wish an employee would provide:
  • 401k matching
  • 401k access to Vanguard or similarly-prices funds
  • 401k plan compatible with Mega Backdoor Roth
  • Health plan that allows contributing to HSA

Some of the above options probably wouldn't provide much incentive to non-Mustachians (and the HSA might even be a disincentive).  When I suggested the Mega Backdoor Roth option at my current company, no other employees seemed to see the value in it.

Non-financial, personally I'd value:
  • Part-time work options (80%, 1/2-time, etc)
  • Flex time
  • Time / money to attend conferences / courses relevant to job

Agree with the comments on "unlimited" vacation---it's difficult to create a culture where it works.  If you go ahead with it, be sure to ensure you (and any other top-level management visibly take vacation.)
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RyanAtTanagra

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2015, 11:40:58 AM »
And along the same lines of flex time and possible part time, I would love the ability to do 4x10hr days instead of 5x8hr.  I had one job like that a long time ago and it was awesome.

Sparafusile

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2015, 11:56:32 AM »
Thanks for all the replies so far:

  • I especially liked the part time option and the 4x10 days.
  • Vanguard and HSA are requirements for me as the owner so they are definitely in.
  • In my field, you have to keep up to date on changing technology so free continuing education benefits both the employee and employer.

I welcome any more ideas. The more radical and off the wall the better.
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bacchi

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2015, 12:13:29 PM »
Look at how Valve works. The developers choose their projects. Fun, greenfield, project that everyone wants? Great, but the bonus pay is lower. Boring, maintenance, project with outdated Java code? Hazard pay.

Quote
Each employee chooses (a) her partners (or team with which she wants to work) and (b) how much time she wants to devote to various competing projects. In making this decision, each Valve employee takes into account not only the attractiveness of projects and teams competing for their time but, also, the decisions of others.

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humbleMouse

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2015, 12:16:09 PM »
Hey OP, I am a very good developer with lots of experience working remote with people in India, canada, arizona, ny, conniticut, ect. ect.  PM me if you are hiring! 
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bacchi

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2015, 12:23:30 PM »
You could even institute a company-wide 32 hour work week.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/07/10/portland-company-32-hour-work-week/29950755/

Pay would have to be reduced, obviously, but some employees would welcome the extra day off. There are also studies that suggest that working <40 hours helps with productivity and creativity, as Treehouse found.

Sparafusile

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2015, 12:43:28 PM »
Look at how Valve works. The developers choose their projects. Fun, greenfield, project that everyone wants? Great, but the bonus pay is lower. Boring, maintenance, project with outdated Java code? Hazard pay.

Quote
Each employee chooses (a) her partners (or team with which she wants to work) and (b) how much time she wants to devote to various competing projects. In making this decision, each Valve employee takes into account not only the attractiveness of projects and teams competing for their time but, also, the decisions of others.

Autonomy, mastery, and purpose:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

That was awesome. Thank you!
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NumberCruncher

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2015, 01:09:36 PM »
You could even institute a company-wide 32 hour work week.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/07/10/portland-company-32-hour-work-week/29950755/

Pay would have to be reduced, obviously, but some employees would welcome the extra day off. There are also studies that suggest that working <40 hours helps with productivity and creativity, as Treehouse found.

I would love that so much...I'd get the same amount of work done either way, too.

Maybe not off the wall ideas, but ideas nonetheless:

*If this is remote work, you could pay for an ergonomic office setup. Desk, fancy chair, multiple monitors...

*A perk I've seen in a lot of startups advertising is also being able to choose your own computer equipment

*Awesome maternity and paternity leave plan (and bereavement, and medical absence)

I think in general people really like "free" things, more than the equivalent increase in pay. Take free lunches for an example - many mustachians would probably like the $10/day (probably more or much more, depending on extravagance) being spent on us, yet we talk about how awesome the perk is in another thread. ;)  What if you paid for vacations? Or childcare? Or pet care? Or gym memberships?

Sparafusile

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2015, 01:47:17 PM »
What if you paid for ... gym memberships?

Ah, now that's something I can get behind! Decrease medical costs and lost time due to illness while increasing productivity and happiness.

At my previous job, I convinced my boss to give me $20 every month that I commuted to work by bicycle. They also offered free parking downtown for those that didn't. Both good perks, but not really applicable to my scenario.
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terran

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2015, 04:17:20 PM »
Something the budgeting software company YNAB does that's pretty cool is force all employees to create a bucket list, then they help them knock off a major item every so often. http://www.youneedabudget.com/blog/2015/ynabs-bucket-list-policy-why-you-should-have-one-too/

LeRainDrop

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2015, 06:30:47 PM »
Gym membership is a GREAT idea!

Policy where company covers broad range of business-related expenses (e.g., continuing education, conferences, phone/data plan, books, client development if that's part of their responsibilities), plus quick and simple method for expense reimbursement

Competitive maternity and paternity leave policies (generous paid time, plus option for extra time unpaid)

You can count me as someone who has "unlimited vacation" and thinks that's a race to the bottom.  People here mock the concept because it ends up being less than 10 days total for most of the worker bees.

ETA:  Offer strong bonuses and set deadline to pay the bonuses very soon after time period earned.  In my job, my evaluation year ends September 30, but our bonus is not paid until January 31.  This essentially forces us to work another four months in order to receive the bonus, which I guess means the employer has a hold on the employee, but it also makes employee unhappy.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2015, 08:28:33 PM by LeRainDrop »

maryofdoom

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2015, 09:23:48 AM »
I've been thinking about this, too, as I am considering setting up my own editing shop.

One of the major things that would entice me to work for someone else again would be an explicit declaration that you will treat your employees like adults. No memos to announce new policies, no passive-aggressive notes about sharing the communal fridge or remembering to wipe down the toilet seat, no blanket declarations that are designed to curb the bad behavior of one person, but instead make your best employees think, "Oh, shit, did I do something wrong?" I want my boss to treat me like a reasonable person and to trust me to get the job done and to get along with people to the very best of my ability.

You can have all the vacation, perks, and gym memberships you want, but if you don't treat your employees like they are adults (and aggressively police demeaning policies and behavior), you'll destroy morale completely. Note that this does make the hiring process more difficult - you'll need to go after people who want to succeed in that kind of environment and will need to probably conduct a really extensive interview process in order to find them.

Also, if you need a technical editor, give me a call. :)

Edited to add: I didn't read your original post super closely before I replied, which is my bad. Since you're looking at remote employees, you won't have to worry about passive-aggressive notes, but I think my original point about treating your employees like adults -- and making that explicit in both your policies and behaviors -- still stands.

Also edited to add: what about scheduling some time for employees to mess around with things? I always wanted to do this, but I never got a team in place to actually make it work. Give everyone a day or even an afternoon where you pay them, but they can mess around with whatever they want to mess around with, as long as it's tangentially related to the company. I believe Google does this, or at least did it in the past. If I had had the chance to do it at my last job, I would have designated Tuesday afternoons as "fuck-around time" and seen what might have happened with it. Maybe you get something awesome; maybe you don't. But if I had a block of time to work on anything that I wanted each week that may or may not have had something to do with what I did on a regular basis, I would be hard-pressed to leave that company for ANY reason.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2015, 09:28:45 AM by maryofdoom »
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robartsd

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2015, 11:47:33 AM »
One thing about freebies - they can provide better value to employees than increasing pay by their costs due to tax implications. If you provide a benefit to your employees it is a business expense which decreases the business income but does not usually count as income for the employee. On the other hand if they are things that otherwise would not have been purchased, the value can be less than the expense.

I like the idea of furnishing your employees' workspaces - this certainly is an expense that they would incur, shows that choosing remote only work is not just about reducing company overhead, and ensures that employees have what they need to be productive.

You also may want to have an annual face-to-face conference with the whole company to provide some of the missing social aspect of remote working (at company expense, in a place people want to visit).

Sparafusile

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2015, 12:54:57 PM »
...you'll need to go after people who want to succeed in that kind of environment and will need to probably conduct a really extensive interview process in order to find them.

Have you put any thought into what sort of questions you would ask during the interview to find these kinds of people? I've worked in a place where they thought of their employees as numbers or even a liability so I understand where you are coming from.

... they can provide better value to employees than increasing pay by their costs due to tax implications.

That's a good point. One thing I mentioned earlier is free parking which doesn't apply to me here. Offering an allowance to furnish a home office might be a nice touch though. Enough to at least buy a decent chair I would think.
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RelaxedGal

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2015, 01:17:25 PM »
Not all of these scale to a small business, but I though I'd put them all out there and you can take what works for you.

Benefits I have appreciated from employers:

  • Free Soda I worked for a dot com, and when I hired on all my friends were SO JEALOUS.  I lost 10 pounds when the company faltered and they took that away (bye, sweet Mountain Dew!)
  • 401k match My current employer is 50% up to the first 6% of my income.
  • Profit sharing At my current, very stable employer that's a flat 5% of my income into my 401k.  At previous employers it was variable, 0% on bad years.
  • Insurance Options I have a high deductible healthcare plan, and employer covers 100% of the premium AND puts $$ into the HSA.  Other coworkers (older, or with sick kids) who know they'll use a lot prefer the traditional plans.
  • Long Term Disability, Short Term Disability, Life Insurance, etc. I purchase my own outside of work, but pre-kids the Disability at 60% of pay and Life at 2-3x salary was plenty
  • Paid Time Off A former employer did this.  There was no Sick/Vacation/Personal/Floating Holiday time distinction.  It was all one bucket to be used as needed, with up to 1 week carryover to the following year.  Use it or lose it - unused time was not cashed out as "holiday money" as some places do.  I think cashing it out incentivizes people to not take vacation.
  • Sick Leave Carryover Current employer divvies time into Sick/Vacation/Personal/Floating Holiday.  Everything is recorded precisely, which is annoying but the good thing is that each has its own carryover policy.  Vacation: 1 week.  Personal: no carryover. Floating Holidays: no carryover.  Sick days allow infinite carryover, BUT they go into a special reserve that acts like short term disability.  Once I have a couple of months saved I'll drop my short term disability.

Additional things I've appreciated re: work culture/environment

  • A drive toward being cutting edge.  E.g. at a previous employer we were Microsoft partners and used a lot of new software, at a discount, while they provided consultants and wrote it up as a case study for future users
  • Lease refresh schedule on hardware, again to stay up to date.
  • Regular system backups.  My current employer doesn't back up our desktop machines and MAn I've missed that a few times.
  • Regular phone conversations with my boss to touch base, get a feel for project priority.  Important when I was working from home full time - I felt very disconnected from the home office.

nobody123

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2015, 01:30:33 PM »
What I'm wondering is, is there anything I could put in it that would make you, as an employee, think "wow" and never want to work anywhere else again?

What you're looking for doesn't exist.  Times change, people change.  What I wanted out of my job / benefits 15 years ago is not what I want today.

You should be trying to figure out the type of employee you want, and design benefits / policies that attract that type of employee.  If you want a bunch of heads-down coders who do exactly what you tell them to do that's one personality type you need to appeal to, so maybe you pay for their super-cool gaming setup in their mom's basement.  If you need business analyst types that interact with clients on their turf on your behalf, then maybe you offer a clothing allowance to ensure they always project a professional image.  If you want a bunch of long-term employees, you tailor your offerings to that.  If you want to attract the younger techs who are constantly job hopping to work on the latest / greatest stuff, trying to sell them on your awesome retirement benefits aren't likely to do much for them, but money for conferences / training would greatly appeal to them.

If I was writing my own handbook, it would cover the bare minimum of legally required stuff and negotiate the rest (vacation time, maternity/paternity leave, sick day policy, etc.) with each individual employee.  Obviously that is cumbersome once you get beyond a handful of employees and/or add another level of management.

maryofdoom

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2015, 02:43:31 PM »
...you'll need to go after people who want to succeed in that kind of environment and will need to probably conduct a really extensive interview process in order to find them.

Have you put any thought into what sort of questions you would ask during the interview to find these kinds of people? I've worked in a place where they thought of their employees as numbers or even a liability so I understand where you are coming from.


Kind of? I'm not even remotely at the point where I can hire people, but I do think about it. I read the Ask a Manager blog (http://askamanager.org) pretty much daily - it's a rare blog, kind of like this one, where the comments are almost as valuable as the posts. I would go there and check out some of their discussions.

One that comes to me off the top of my head is to ask about a project for their company that your potential employee would like to work on, but just hasn't had the chance to work on yet (kind of like asking what they'd like to do in their fuck-around time). I would wager that anyone who is motivated and self-directed has a few pet work projects like these - something they'd love to spend time on, but just can't, for whatever reason.

You might also ask them about different work scenarios or problems and what they'd do in them or to solve them. I'm not taking about things like, "How would you find out how many people live in Manhattan?" or Google-esque questions like that. Maybe ask how someone has resolved conflicts with co-workers (and even with bosses) in the past.

It's hard, because it's difficult for the iconoclasts who would thrive in this type of environment to know if you're the kind of employer who would reward that behavior by making a job offer, or if you're the kind who would think, "Wow, this person is a whack job, they are so not getting hired."

You can also be very explicit about your cultural requirements when you're thinking about your job descriptions. Too often, I see job descriptions that are just a list of skills that employers would like employees to have. I would think about the kind of person you would fall all over yourself to hire, and then figure out how to write a job description to self-select for those people. For example: in my last job, I had to write a job description for brand-new, entry-level sales people. It didn't make sense to require that people knew how to use our internal CRM system, because you can teach someone how to do that: but it did make sense to look for people who were cheerful, resilient, and didn't get discouraged when people hung up on them, because our sales people would have a lot of people hang up on them, at first. Previous job descriptions had nothing about that in there, and as a result, the sales department had a pretty high rate of turnover.

And seriously: if you need someone to handle your company's communications in any capacity, I'm completely available to do so. :)
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monstermonster

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2015, 03:49:25 PM »
I highly recommend a gander at YNAB's employee listings. They're all remote and they have what seems like a great organizational culture & set of nice policies (particularly the " enforced vacation" and the "write your bucket list when you start".

http://www.youneedabudget.com/blog/2015/were-hiring-two-people-that-want-to-positively-impact-the-financial-lives-of-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people/
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LeRainDrop

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2015, 06:50:41 PM »
I read the Ask a Manager blog (http://askamanager.org) pretty much daily - it's a rare blog, kind of like this one, where the comments are almost as valuable as the posts. I would go there and check out some of their discussions.
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Cpa Cat

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2015, 07:16:12 PM »
I'm self-employed, now, so it's hard to imagine working for The Man, again. But there were a few things that drove me off my former employer.

I'd have liked to see:

Performance Based Bonuses - seriously.. Nothing worse for morale than hearing how great the firm is doing, only to be given no bonuses and paltry raises.

Banked Overtime for extra vacation (my industry has a busy season that inflicts 60-80 hours a week on us, then a slower season in the Summer, during which a lot of time was wasted. I wouldn't even have needed 1:1 banked over time. Even 25% would have been cool.

Education Fund: Apparently my firm had a very generous Continuing Education budget - but no one knew about it. I found out by accident while trying to get some outside CPE approved. It would have been a big bonus to know the amount and have the discretion to spend it on professional education. Not everyone would use it - but for employees who like enhanced education opportunities, it'd be a big boost.

Accurate vacation: Our employee handbook actually had the wrong # of days for vacation. People had no idea and lost vacation as a result. When someone discovered the error, HR tried to make it right by letting us roll over the vacation - but only to the first 30 days of the next year. Then it was a struggle to take it, because it wasn't convenient or planned. They made no move to make it up for previous years. The handbook was never corrected.

All in one bucket: I'd much prefer all PTO, including sick leave be all one bucket. But... People who like to bank sick leave for maternity leave would hate it. On the other hand, problem solved with paid maternity, I guess. I never used my sick leave. Other people used all of theirs. It seemed a little unfair that I wasn't allowed to miss work because I was healthier or didn't have kids.

mozar

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2015, 10:02:09 AM »
1. Allow employees to vest in 401k within 3 months (no 6 year vesting schedule bs)
2. Have your standard benefits (401k, hsa, parental leave, etc) and instead of forcing people to negotiate (which forces women to lose out usually) is to offer a cafeteria plan and offer a list of option that you can choose from. A list of things like gym, fancy chair, free lunch, etc. And people can pick and choose. One person might prefer gym, another might prefer the ergonomic chair.
3. Be kind to your employees. Don't bark at them, cut them off, and arbitrarily deny requests. That's what makes the man, "the man"
4. Be a place where people can make suggestions without fear of being fired. Don't do this http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/08/13/aran_khanna_got_fired_from_a_facebook_internship_for_pointing_out_a_messenger.html
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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2015, 10:54:02 AM »
Great suggestions.
Not sure how you'd get this into an HR book, but it's a hot topic at my company.

Keep the job a job - our company often railroads staff into required "team building" functions outside and inside working hours, where we are expected to pitch in for food, drink, etc.  Some of these exercises are based on psychology, crosses over into personal lives, and makes me feel like I am part of some weird social experiment.

I've heard the following comment from at least four coworkers after being asked to provide a profile that includes their favorite color, movie, food, etc:  "Can't I just do my JOB?"

Sadly, at this company, the answer appears to be no.

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #34 on: August 17, 2015, 06:30:51 AM »
I would love it if each employee got some sort of small amount of money (<$1000) to pay for training/memberships or office items THEY value. I work for the US federal government which is the opposite of this. I have a list to fill out if I want more post its. Mostly we get no say in what happens in our work environment but when we do I'm always suprised to discover what cheap options we really want. Top requests in various past years have been: more whiteboards for a team that did a lot of collaborative brainstorming, a hands free headset and cordless phone for people who had to answer the phone all day, more light switches so each cube could have their own lightning level. None of these items are bank breaking but all have been very appreciated. I also wish I could go to more conferences just to attend and learn . We only get to go it we present, which makes for a lot of marginal scientific paper submissions by people who really just want to GO to the conference.

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #35 on: August 17, 2015, 08:41:23 AM »
It seems like smaller, straight forward documents can be more effective. I may or may not read a long, detailed employee handbook.

You may want to set policies your partner and you can consistently ensure. There is not much point in offering flex-time, and then subtly pressure an employee not to run an errand because there is work to do.

4 to 5 weeks vacation. I am all in for the 'all in one bucket' of vacation and sick days.

4 days and 10 hours, or 32 hours a week might might give you an greater advantage.

A competitive maternity and paternity leave policy could give you another additional advantage.

I would prefer to purchase my own insurances, gym memberships, etc.

401k and match is fine. For me, staying with our 401k is about pretax and the match.

I like giving a small amount of money, or reimbursing employees for managing their own office (i.e. computer, phone, internet, etc.)

I like the 'keep the job a job'. I prefer less paternalistic or maternalistic employment.

Beyond benefits, I enjoyed working for companies with a pleasant work environment. Sounds like you are on your way to providing this too.

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #36 on: August 17, 2015, 08:56:48 AM »
Policy-wise I'm a huge fan of being allowed to work out while on the clock. I'd suggest giving you're employees an hour each day to workout - so an 8 hour work day would be 7 hours of work, and 1 hour of physical activity. As a policy, it incentives both productivity and physical fitness. Win-win.

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2015, 12:35:25 PM »
I would encourage you to let your employees determine their pay/benefits mix. When you're still small, what's to stop you from saying to them, "I will spend X on you and you can allocate that as you see fit. You can decide whether that's straight 1099, W-2, or if it's a heavily weighted toward a 401K or no 401K at all." Choose your own compensation plan! It seems like you're going after an analytical person with a lot of options.

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2015, 01:55:06 PM »
I have a quick follow-up question. A lot of the suggestions you are giving have to do with management technique rather than benefits specifically. How do you feel you would like to be managed if you were working remotely 100% of the time?

In my previous job, we subscribed to the Scrum technique of project management. We would have a scheduled meeting every day that was not to exceed 15 minutes in length (although it often did) in which we discussed what we completed the previous day, what we are doing today, and if we had any roadblocks. Then, if necessary, there were other meetings scheduled based on any issues that arose from the discussion. The rest of the day we were pretty much left to our own devices to finish the work at hand.

I liked the idea of letting an employee work no the projects that interested them the most. I know I got more done if I was interested in the work I was doing. What happens when there is a project that is a "must have" and needs to be done, but nobody is interested? Should responsibility be assigned in a round-robin fashion?
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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #39 on: August 17, 2015, 03:09:09 PM »
I liked the idea of letting an employee work no the projects that interested them the most. I know I got more done if I was interested in the work I was doing. What happens when there is a project that is a "must have" and needs to be done, but nobody is interested? Should responsibility be assigned in a round-robin fashion?
Ideally, you hire true professionals who see the value of working non-sexy projects, and you don't need to nominate anyone to go rewrite that awful rules engine that nobody dares touching. This can be encouraged by publicly praising this sort of work, and people will pick up on the fact that the management team values sustainable, quality work.

maryofdoom

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #40 on: August 17, 2015, 03:57:54 PM »
I liked the idea of letting an employee work no the projects that interested them the most. I know I got more done if I was interested in the work I was doing. What happens when there is a project that is a "must have" and needs to be done, but nobody is interested? Should responsibility be assigned in a round-robin fashion?
Ideally, you hire true professionals who see the value of working non-sexy projects, and you don't need to nominate anyone to go rewrite that awful rules engine that nobody dares touching. This can be encouraged by publicly praising this sort of work, and people will pick up on the fact that the management team values sustainable, quality work.

Yeah, definitely. As someone who is an advocate of the Sexy Project, I know that Boring Projects are part of life and can't be avoided. However, if I had a promise that, say, I could spend 15% of my time on Sexy Project X, I would be way more willing to spend 85% of my time on Boring Projects A, B, and C.

However, if you explicitly promise me 15% Sexy Project X time and then say, "Oh, crap, we need to get Boring Projects A and C done ASAP, spend all your time on those and put Sexy Project X on hold, and then finish up Boring Project B, and then you need to pick up Boring Projects D, E, F, and G," that's a recipe for resentment.

For anything on the hard logistics of remote management, I would check out Ask a Manager and see what the commentariat there has to say about it. You could also ask about everyone's experience in the weekly Friday open thread - I've had good luck with surveying a wide range of experiences in that format. Managing people remotely is a different kind of problem and I don't think enough people are willing to wrestle with it properly, which is why you get the 40-hour-per-week-butt-in-chair management mentality. It's simply easier to say, "You must be here for 40 hours from 9 AM to 5 PM and that's what we will pay you for," rather than realistically try to evaluate what employees are bringing to the table.

Then you get situations like my last workplace...where every single non-exempt employee punches a time clock, and God forbid you be late in the morning, or work a minute past 5 PM to get something done. I understand having a time clock for production employees, but for artists? Or sales staff? That's just a lazy substitute for, you know, actually managing people and their work.
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vagon

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #41 on: August 17, 2015, 06:33:03 PM »
Benefits are fine, but people are typically more motivated by feeling like they are contributing to a cause they relate to, at a level of difficulty that keeps things interesting without being in a panic. To do that well you need to have a framework in place that scales as things get more complex.

Above anything you should specify intent and any boundaries clearly while avoiding the "how". You're intent should be something fairly specific like:
  • We need X new project completed by Q4, with Y% defect rate.
  • You are free to spend ABC on design, but time-to-paint must be under 3 seconds.

If you have competing priorities you should specify which is most important so as to assist in any trade-offs the employee will need to make when they figure out the "how". Have them confirm their understanding of your intent and correct as necessary to avoid letting down expectations on both sides. Day-to-day you should be focused on removing any blockers and regularly reaffirming the intent/strategy, which Scrum is ideal for.

Misstachian

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Re: If you could write your own employee handbook...
« Reply #42 on: August 17, 2015, 06:50:52 PM »
A family member works for a start up that offers new employees a free Kindle and unlimited ebooks. They also give hires a fitness/sleep tracker. I guess they figure healthy, well read employees are the best kind. I love the idea of the ebook perk.

They work remotely but are also encouraged to work really remotely if they want - to take off to Hawaii or wherever and work from there. While this may not be applicable to your situation, they meet in some cool place three times a year, flying everyone out, so they can have face time for two weeks, and they do cool sightseeing on the company's dime on weekends.

They also have completely transparent salaries, which could be a perk if you like that idea. (Happy to share their very transparent blog, too.)