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Handbook Q&A: Chris + Sarah Coleman

September 20, 2017 -  By

Headshot: Chris + Sarah Coleman

Chris + Sarah Coleman
Four Seasons Nursery & Landscape Services
Bel Air, Md.

LM: What’s your approach to an employee handbook?

SC: The handbook was one of the first things we wrote up when we purchased the company from my mother-in-law four years ago. I took what I knew from being in a totally separate industry and the experiences and stories I’d heard from Chris over the years and figured out where to start. Chris was involved in the business when my in-laws owned it, and I was a government contractor. Neither one of us had any kind of experience running a business whatsoever.

LM: What topics do you include?

SC: Compensation, benefits, holidays, parental leave, those kinds of things. We had a workman’s comp issue come up, so now we have a policy on that. No matter what, you may not come back to work until you have a clear doctor’s note.

LM: How and when it is distributed? How often is it updated?

SC: When employees come in to fill out paperwork after they’re hired, we provide a copy of the handbook. I used to read through it with everybody, but now it’s up to 15 pages, so they can take it home. But they have to sign a form saying they’re responsible for anything in the handbook. We’ve made some addendums, like a drug and alcohol policy and how we reimburse for education, so we had a company meeting, explained the addendums are policies and they had to sign off on those. Then we added them to the handbook at a later time.

It’s updated quarterly and reviewed once a year. We make sure the attorneys check it over. I deal with HR, but I don’t have an HR background, so we need to make sure we’re compliant.

LM: What advice do you have for other companies implementing a handbook?

Definitely have a drug and alcohol policy. Be very clear on your leave policy, and include dress code, if you have one.

This is posted in 0917, Cover story
Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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