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4 Reasons to Audit Your Employee Handbook

Updated: May 10

An employee handbook can be a great tool for introducing new team members to the mission, values, policies and rules of your practice and, more importantly, setting expectations for future performance. That being said, it may seem like one of those tasks you can do once and not worry about again. To the contrary, the best employee handbooks are living documents. If you haven’t reviewed your existing employee handbook in a while, here are four reasons you might want to add an audit to your to do list.

Changes Have Been Made Within Your Practice

The most obvious reason to revisit your employee handbook is because its contents may simply be out-of-date. Practices evolve and grow. As such, certain things within them change as well, such as the company mission statement or operational policies. If your employee handbook hasn’t been adapted to account for those changes, the information you are providing, both to new employees as well as existing team members, could be incorrect. In some cases, incorrect info could leave you with a mess on your hands.

Laws And Regulations Have Changed

If your employee handbook was created many years ago, chances are there have been a lot of changes, in particular when it comes to state or federal employment laws. For example, the regulations surrounding things like paid sick leave are continuously being revised. If your handbook contains information that is not in line with these new regulations, you could find yourself facing serious and costly consequences. Make sure your employees are being provided with the most up-to-date and accurate information available. In other words, be sure to cover yourself, just in case.

The World Has Changed

Undoubtedly, we are living in a world that is remarkably different today than it was even just a decade ago. These days, things like social media and cloud computing have revolutionized the workplace. Unfortunately, along with the many benefits technology has brought, there are also greater risks. If it’s been awhile since you’ve leafed through your employee handbook, there’s a good chance it needs to be updated to include information on things like safe social sharing and other tech-related policies. Again, setting expectations is the goal, so be proactive.

Your Employees Could Use a Refresher

If your team has been in place for a while, first – kudos to you for rocking the retention rate. Second, it’s probably been years since they dusted off their employee handbooks. Now’s as good a time as any for a refresher. Even if you decide there’s not much in your existing handbook that needs to be changed, reminding your team to take another look might be a good idea. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to highlight, such as certain policies that seem to have fallen by the wayside, consider holding a brief meeting to go over them.

While there’s no law requiring that veterinary practice owners supply their employees with a handbook, the fact is, doing so can have a positive effect on staff performance, ultimately your bottom line. The key is making sure yours is up-to-date and contains accurate, appropriate information. By conducting regular audits of your handbook, you’ll be able to maximize its impact and outcome.

Our Advice on Reasons to Audit Your Employee Handbook in 2024

How often should a veterinary practice audit their employee handbook to ensure it remains up-to-date and compliant with current laws?

To ensure an employee handbook remains current and compliant, a veterinary practice should audit it annually. This frequency aligns with the typical pace at which business practices evolve and regulatory changes occur. Regular audits will catch updates in employment laws, technological advancements, and shifts in operational policies. An annual review also allows practices to integrate new health and safety standards promptly, maintaining the handbook's effectiveness as a tool for setting clear expectations for staff performance and workplace conduct.

What are the potential legal consequences for a practice if their employee handbook contains outdated or incorrect information?

If a veterinary practice's employee handbook contains outdated or incorrect information, the practice could face significant legal consequences. Out-of-date content, especially regarding employment laws such as paid sick leave and workplace safety regulations, might result in non-compliance with state and federal laws. This non-compliance can lead to lawsuits, fines, and penalties. Additionally, incorrect information can undermine staff trust and morale, potentially affecting staff performance and retention. Ensuring the handbook is current helps safeguard the practice against these risks and reinforces a professional and legally compliant workplace environment.

Are there any specific sections or topics that are often overlooked when auditing an employee handbook?

When auditing an employee handbook, certain sections are frequently overlooked yet crucial for maintaining compliance and clarity. These include policies on social media use and data privacy, which are often neglected despite their growing relevance in today's digital workplace. Additionally, emergency response procedures and health and safety protocols may be outdated, particularly as new regulations and practices emerge. It's also common to miss updates on employment classifications and benefits, which can lead to legal issues and employee dissatisfaction if not regularly reviewed and adjusted to reflect current laws and organizational changes.

What are some best practices for structuring and organizing an employee handbook?

Best practices for structuring and organizing an employee handbook involve clear categorization and easy navigation to enhance usability and compliance. Start with a welcoming introduction that outlines the practice's mission and values. Organize the content into distinct sections covering employment basics, operational policies, employee benefits, and conduct guidelines. Include a clear table of contents and use straightforward language to ensure accessibility. Regularly updating the handbook and incorporating feedback from legal and HR professionals can ensure it remains relevant and comprehensive, reflecting the latest legal requirements and best practices.

Are there any digital tools or platforms that can help streamline the process of creating, updating, and distributing an employee handbook?

Several digital tools and platforms can streamline the creation, updating, and distribution of an employee handbook. Software like BambooHR and Gusto offer templates and customizable options that make it easier to maintain current information and ensure compliance with legal standards. These platforms also facilitate distribution, allowing employees to access the handbook electronically and acknowledge receipt and understanding of its contents. Additionally, Google Docs can be used for real-time updates and collaborative editing, ensuring that all team members have access to the latest version of the handbook.

For more practice management tips, tricks, and expert advice, bookmark the DVMelite blog and check back often for fresh content.

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