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Employee Handbook Best Practices

Robert Rakocy

June 4, 2020

Employee Handbook

When new caregivers join your team, your agency’s employee handbook gives them the blueprint of how your agency works. Without a handbook that is effective and compliant, your caregivers and other staff will put it in a pile of orientation papers and never look at it again. Instead of creating a handbook that is not useful, and one that doesn’t get looked at after hiring, choose to take the time to overhaul your handbook to make it the backbone of your agency.



Benefits of a Compliant and Informative Employee Handbook


A well-crafted and thoughtful employee handbook can set the tone for your entire agency. It’s true! Here are just a few benefits that a compliant and informative employee handbook can bring to your staff, your clients, and your agency:


  • Ensures everyone is on the same page regarding policy, procedures, and expectations
  • Provides the opportunity for consistent training in orientation as well as in ongoing staff meetings
  • Decreases the risk of lawsuits or retribution, as it outlines specific agency policy and procedures
  • Creates an atmosphere of teamwork
  • Gives employees the tools they need to provide better care to clients and to themselves
  • Empowers employees with best practices and expectations


List of Employee Handbook Best Practices


Your employee handbook is not as effective as it can be without ensuring it gets out to staff promptly and is reviewed regularly. Here are a few industry best practices that you can begin to implement today:


  • Have all new employees sign off that they received and reviewed the employee handbook prior to leaving orientation
  • Review the employee handbook at least yearly with staff and have them sign off 
  • Tackle one small piece of the handbook at each monthly staff meeting or in a short video sent out to employees monthly
  • Create diverse task forces, made up of interdisciplinary team members of your agency, to review current policies and procedures outlined in your employee handbook
  • Thoroughly audit your current handbook, and make necessary updates, at least once per year
  • Review your current policies and procedures as new federal and state guidelines come out for home care agencies
  • Make sure your handbook uses reader-friendly language and not too much legal-speak; you want your handbook to give good information in a way that is easy to digest


Double Check Your Employee Handbook


Your employee handbook should focus on compliance, information, and expectations. However, it should also reflect your agency’s values and mission. You can incorporate a balance of both by making it a habit to review your employee handbook at least annually, making revisions as needed. Audits should be conducted by a committee that includes leadership personnel as well as Human Resources staff.


While each agency can create their own handbook, here are a few items you should include in yours:


  • Terms of employment review (this should be covered during the interview / hire process, but it is always good to review it here too) 
  • Agency information: mission statement, core values, code of ethics, history of the agency, organizational chart, contact information 
  • Human Resources policies including: attendance, call-off, no call no show, clocking in and out, request for time off, time off categories (bereavement, vacation, sick, holidays, or PTO), harassment, reporting a problem or concern, notice of pay rate form, meals and break expectations, submitting hours for payroll, disciplinary action process 
  • Client care policies including dress code or expectations, communication expectations with family, abuse/neglect detection and reporting, client rights, caregiver rights, documentation expectations and requirements, emergency response and procedures, transportation expectations 
  • Mentor program checklist (if your agency has an established caregiver mentor program) 


Your employee handbook can become the foundation of your agency, welcoming new caregivers, educating veteran staff members, and giving everyone a common vision of your agency’s goals. Commit to regular education about your handbook as well as regular auditing to ensure the handbook is effective, informative, and compliant. 





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