Many construction-related businesses have problems because their relationship with an employee or a subcontractor is going bad. Oftentimes, the problem is that no one knows what the relationship is supposed to be – the employer has one expectation, the employee has another. The same happens with sub and general contractors.
When business relationships are spelled out in writing, there are fewer problems. That’s why every business should have both an employee manual and a subcontractor manual customized for their business.
An employee manual clearly tells your employees, “Here is how we work.” Without clear direction, it’s not surprising when the employee and employer get at odds and the fight is on. The employee takes their complaint to the state, and a bureaucrat jumps in – guess whose side they will take? If there isn’t anything in writing saying otherwise, the business owner usually loses.
If you have a well-written employee manual signed by your employees, that takes the state out of the picture. This is your contract with the employee and unless you haven’t lived up to your end of the bargain, the state has no case. I know from feedback from clients that our employee manual, properly customized for their business and their local laws, has stopped the state from getting involved in disputes they’ve had with current or former employees. Just make sure your employees read and sign the employee manual at least once each year.
The same goes for a subcontractor manual. Again, it becomes a contract between you and your subs on how you will work together, and your relationships with your subs are critical to your long-term business survival. The sub manual should be in two parts. The first part says, “Here is how we work together.” You describe your relationship, keeping the jobs clean, when you will pay them, their involvement with your clients, etc. The second part is the specs, price and any other particulars that apply to each new job that you do together. Again, once they sign the agreement for the job, you now have a contract for that work and it is enforceable in court if they don’t abide by the agreement.
Like so many things that should get done, many business owners have the best of intentions but never take the time to put an employee manual or subcontractor manual together. Our manuals are a starting place. They have to be customized for your business, and you might need to add policies for your particular business, but they get you started. It might take 4-10 hours to customize your employee manual the first time, and maybe 2-3 hours for a subcontractor manual. After a year add or change policies as needed. But get started. The investment in time to customize your manual is far less than the time spent trying to recover from a relationship gone bad.