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How to update company handbooks to reflect new sensitivities

Considering today’s constantly transforming social and cultural landscape, companies must be conscientious about keeping their handbooks current with new sensitivities and norms. Doing this ensures that all employees receive respect and helps organizations maintain a positive environment.

Beyond making workers feel more comfortable, proactively updating employee manuals can be instrumental in avoiding discrimination lawsuits.

Acknowledge change

Social norms adjust over time. For example, issues surrounding diversity, mental health and remote work policies are more relevant now than ever. Businesses should acknowledge these shifts and reassess their handbooks to be sure they address these evolving needs.

Gather diverse input

To ensure that edits are comprehensive and inclusive, collect opinions representing a diverse selection of people. Solicit thoughts from employees with different ethnic backgrounds and levels of power in the company. Collecting a wide range of perspectives makes it more likely that problematic oversights within the handbook’s current edition will come to light.

Revise policies

Having completed the research stage, rewrite the handbook. Be conscientious about using language that is inclusive and courteous toward everyone. For example, replacing gender-specific pronouns with neutral ones is a forward-thinking decision. Pay particular attention to the section that outlines what constitutes harassment and discrimination.

Double-check that edits are impossible to misinterpret and easy to understand. Avoid jargon and legalistic wording that might be confusing. Remember that your handbook should be a practical guide to help employees understand their rights and responsibilities.

Review and update regularly

Company manual revisions should not be a one-time task. Periodic reevaluations are necessary to keep pace with societal developments. Establish a set time of the year for reassessing and implementing fresh adjustments.

Every company needs an employee handbook, but the expectations for one are in constant flux. Outside consultation may be beneficial in achieving written policies that are both legally sound and reflective of the community.