Best Practices for When You Revise Your Veterinary Practice’s Employee Handbook
Employee handbooks for veterinary practices are important as a knowledge source for you and your employees.
It’s the best way to keep your veterinary practice and team dynamics on track and all on the same page. As you will see, though, it’s not timeless and unchanging.
No matter how big or small your veterinary practice is, or how many years you’ve been around, you must keep your employee handbook up to date. It’s the only way to ensure compliance, as a way to protect yourself, your employees, and patients.
Here’s a basic outline of how to update policies for your veterinary practice. If you do it the right way, your employees will accept them. Schedule a consultation to learn more about how HR for Health can help.
Which Portions of Your Employee Handbook Could You Revise?
An employee handbook is much more than just a set of rules for your veterinary practice. It’s a dynamic guidebook for your practice’s policies and procedures. While your employee handbook should be as comprehensive and useful as possible, it’s also designed to be a dynamic and changing document.
• You won’t need to revise your employee handbook every day, but you should be prepared to review the pre-defined sections,: Legal requirements for state, local, or federal laws.
You won't need to worry about checking the information about your veterinary practice, such as your physical address, phone number, and email address. It’s also unlikely that you’ll need to change details about your company values and policies. Similarly, you probably won’t need to worry about changing your benefits and entitlement.
However, you’ll need to keep an eye on legal requirements to ensure you’re compliant as laws change. You may change the policies, employee benefits, and entitlements if you change your hiring process, employee requirements, and employer obligations; but that is unlikely to happen very often.
Recommended Reading 📃 How to Implement Your Veterinary Practice's Employee Handbook with Your Team
What Reactions Should You Expect When You Alter Your Employee Handbook?
As a veterinarian professional, you’ll include the essential policies in your handbook, but you will also face a range of emotional reactions and even pushback when you announce the changes you need to make for your practice. Even if the updates are controversial, you still may need to proceed with the changes, so here are a few tips you should keep in mind:
1. If you are adding or updating policies and procedures that directly affect the work environment for your team, your employees may get upset or start pushing back. It could be that they don’t yet understand how the changes will affect them, or the change may seem unfair.
2. If you add or modify benefits and entitlements, your employees could have a negative impression of your intentions and how it will affect their job.
3. If you adjust holiday pay, you may face backlash from your employees because they have certain expectations based on their tenure and years of dedication. So, you should keep that in mind.
Review your employee handbook every year. Make sure your employee handbook continues to reflect your veterinary practice’s mission and financial standing. Consider how you can make any changes or adjustments easy and timely, taking into consideration how your employees might react to the changes.
How To Get Your Employees To Accept Your Revisions
People dislike change, and they often dislike surprises even more. You don’t want them to feel like you’re forcing them to do something. Consider your employees’ needs and feelings, and treat them with respect. Your employees will be more likely to accept the change. Schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help address the changes.
Collaborate with Managers and Include Them in the Process
Work with your leaders to bring them to your side. This process can be a team-building exercise, and your managers can be your biggest advocate. They can also help you understand your employees’ point of view — and whether your team will accept or reject your policies. Then, you need to consider feedback you receive and decide whether to move forward, compromise, or shelve the change.
Make Sure Your Employees are Notified Well in Advance
Give your employees time to think about your changes to increase the probability of buy-in. After a discussion with your managers, make sure they present it to the team immediately. Your managers should bring issues and concerns back to you for further discussion.
Make it easy for your employees to offer feedback via an open-door policy, anonymous dropbox, and even the exit interview for departing employees. Address the concerns of all your employees, reaching out individually to those who historically have demonstrated discomfort with express themselves openly. Schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help you address the concerns of your practice.
Circle Back With Your Managers
Before you implement your changes, be sure to discuss them again with your managers. Now that you’re armed with information, review past discussions and feedback, weigh the benefits and detriments, decide if the changes are worthwhile, and make plans for a smooth implementation of the change.
Obtain Employee Acknowledgment
Once you’ve distributed your handbook, set a date to collect the “Confirmation of Receipt,” confirming the handbook was received and read. Send electronic copies to your employees, with timestamp and electronic signature to confirm receipt. HR for Health clients need not worry as our software handles this. To protect yourself from future liability, retain copies of these documents with our integrated online documentation vault to prove that you’ve informed your employees about your handbook policy changes.
As an alternative to collecting individual signed pages from each employee, you can have a single signature sheet that employees sign to acknowledge they’ve received and read the employee handbook. Set a tangible date for them to sign to ensure this task is completed promptly.
Recommended Reading 📃 Why You Need an Employee Handbook Instead of Template
Why You Should Outsource the Revision Process
Revising an employee handbook is not uncommon, but you don’t want to ruin employee relationships or put yourself or your veterinary practice at risk by inadvertently including policies that may not be legally compliant. The change process is more efficient for smaller vet operations when you work with an outsourced company.
At HR for Health, we understand the nuances involved in making policy changes, and we know how to assist you in executing those compliant changes with minimal disruption to your team, preventing employer/employee conflicts.
How HR for Health Can Help
HR for Health is an all-in-one HR software solution dedicated to helping the dental, optometry, and veterinary industries. Our human resources platform features all the tools practice owners need to manage payroll, timekeeping, 401(k), and more with total integration and ease. Whether you’re looking for HR support for a small business or you’re a large group dental practice, HR for Health has the solution to fit your practice and budget. Reach out to a HR for Health account representative to learn more, today.