This month, our focus is surrounding the importance of HR management and how to handle certain issues. Churches can sometimes get into trouble because of what they don’t know.
Importance of Knowing Basic HR Practices
Generally speaking, churches often think they are probably exempt from many human resource practices. But our guest says that really, churches have very narrow exceptions- surrounding discrimination over religion or religious practices, and that’s about it. Everything else really should be handle like a business. From fair wage and hour, to how you pay, all the way through wrongful termination.
As a church, we need policies in place. But the policies should be telling a story. When an infraction occurs, take a few breaths, take a step back, and think of the story you are trying to convey.
Writing Your Handbook
Some of the things you may have to deal with will be spelled out in your handbook. So let’s go over a few of those things now.
Letters, memos, and day-to-day communication with your staff are generally fun and inviting. But when it comes to the organization’s handbook, we seem to be stuck back in the 1970s at a manufacturing plant. It doesn’t need to be that way. That’s one of the pitfalls organizations can fall into.
Another one of the big mistakes organizations can make is writing a policy because one person messed up one time. That should be a one-on-one conversation. Another pit-fall is using hand-cuff language (“will” or “must,” vs. “normally” or “usually”). Which ties the church to these things and in a court of law could cause more harm if you don’t follow those things to the letter.
Another mistake organizations can make in your policy writing is putting your attorney language at the front of the handbook. Most of the time, those things can be stored in the back. And instead, put the things that people are searching for up front. (Like your PTO policy!)
Order of the Handbook
As a general rule, Brian’s Table of Contents would look something like this: Introduction, a message from leadership and grievance procedures, followed by the most important things people want to know, and ending with the legal jargon.
Grievance procedures deals with the big items. Your day-to-day issues go to your manager. Next is your core values, basic work rules (attendance, dress code, etc.). Benefits come next – another thing people are going to be looking for right away. Followed by safety and computer policies – email, social media, etc. (and your lack of privacy surrounding those). The final section is what your attorneys want you to include. Some of those could be mentioned somewhere in the beginning, but then just reference where they are later in the handbook for more information.
Social media tangent: you can have rules surrounding this. And you should. But only about the time an employee can be on social media during work, not about what they are posting. Individuals have more protection surrounding this than you may originally think. They are actually protected from old union laws. For instance, complaining about your workplace or your pay online, nothing you can do about that. Except help these individuals have a great work environment from the beginning.
Top 3 Things
Less is more. Storytelling surrounding your vision and mission. And include all the technical data necessary – at the end. Your handbook should be less than 25-30 pages to complete all of the necessary items.
If you need help in this area, reach out to Brian at OutrightHR: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us next week as we continue our series on Human Resources: Hiring, Firing, and Employee disputes.
Special thanks to our guest, Brian Huston, and our masters of all things Podcasting, Chris and Lauren Miller, for this first episode in our Human Resources series.