In February 2019, Florida had 348 craft breweries. Seven new breweries opened in February 2019, and there are many, many products to choose from. Chances are, your craft beer operation is humming along and employees are busy building a great brand and delicious product. The workplace has great energy, and employees are mostly getting along together. HR seems to be on autopilot. However, lately, you have noticed that there have been a few questions about company policy and you are hiring more often. In the past, you have created a few stand-alone employee notices about important topics (changing shifts, requesting time off, conduct in the tap room, paid time off), but most other policy questions are handled on an “as needed basis.” Now that you have successfully launched your summer beer offerings (with very positive feedback), is it time to create an Employee Handbook? You are still a relatively small business, but the brewery employee count is approaching 20 employees. Given today’s business climate, the experts agree that your craft brewery should create an Employee Handbook, but … you do not want to douse the entrepreneurial creativity and “chill vibe” at the company.
Consider what Christine Denny, president of First Magnitude Brewing, has to say about managing business growth. First Magnitude started as the shared vision of four friends in Gainesville, and, five years later, the company is running a 20-tap tasting room and beer garden, and producing award-winning brews. Realizing that it was time to “get everyone on the same page, by providing common guidelines,” Christine entrusted us at ConsultStu with the development of a handbook custom designed for her industry. “One very important area of consideration for a craft brewery is an alcohol policy,” Christine explains. “We had to consider our tap room staff, brewers, and sales team when developing a policy that acknowledges the industry we work in while ensuring we operate a very safe and respectful workplace.” Overall, she reports, the First Magnitude employees appreciated the effort that went into the handbook, as well as the sense of becoming a more established company. The clear guidelines for operations and staff conduct and behavior create a framework that everyone can work from. ConsultStu is proud to contribute to the next level of success for this client and for all of our clients.
And now … if your brewing company is ready for the creation of a new Employee Handbook, what policies should be included? We break the needed policies into two groups: those that protect the business and give you the flexibility to manage; and the policies that employees care about.
Protecting your Craft Brewery (the basics):
- At will employment – so there are no express or implied contracts of employment and everyone is free to stay or leave, as they wish
- Equal Employment Opportunity statement.
- A non-harassment statement that prohibits harassment, explains what it is and how your brewery will handle harassment concerns that are raised by employees
- Workplace conduct rules, including attendance, to provide employees with specific matters that may lead to corrective counseling, up to an including termination
- Company communications and guideline when using company phones, computers, internet and when using social media
- Pay periods; how to record and report hours worked (method) and responsibility to pay overtime
- 90 day introductory period for new hires to minimize your unemployment costs
- Mandated leaves under federal and state law, including jury duty and military duty.
- Workplace violence prevention
- How to report a workplace injury
- Lactation accommodation
- Returning company property
Your employees will want to know about these policies:
- Pay days
- Open door and how problems are addressed
- Proper dress for work
- Employee benefits – paid time off, insurances, perks, retirement plan, sick days,
- How performance is evaluated
- Bonuses and incentive pay
- What is your story and why should employees care
- Company values
- What makes your business unique and amazing
Rather than taking the fun out of your business, your craft brewery employee handbook will actually make life easier for you AND your employees, by establishing a fair, consistent, transparent foundation of mutual expectations and obligations. It will serve as a helpful resource to employees (answering questions and shaping culture) as well as an important document that establishes your company’s commitment to legal compliance. At Consultstu, we can provide special project assistance on an hourly basis to develop an effective employee handbook designed for the size and style of your unique business. Call or email us today!