Handbook Q&A: Tom Pilon

September 20, 2017 -  By
Headshot: Tom Pilon

Headshot: Tom Pilon

Tom Pilon
Owner, Perfect Earth Landscape
Louisville, Ky.

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

TP: Our employee handbook is not just a one-time use document that’s handed out to each employee upon hiring. It has been very helpful throughout the seasons when an issue comes up. We have kept it detailed, simple and clear—without being a micromanaged procedure manual. It mainly serves as a reference guide for us and our employees, so everyone is one the same page. Written documentation is important and each new hire is given an updated handbook to review and sign. On the first page we say, “The guidelines presented in this handbook are not intended to be a substitute for sound management, judgment and discretion.”

LM: What topics do you include?
TP: It covers many different topics, including our company philosophy, compensation, standards and expectations, benefits and more.

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

TP: It’s distributed to a potential new hire at the first interview, in person.
We go over it briefly and I highlight some of the more important parts (safety, attendance, pay periods, personal conduct, paid holidays and time-off policies). They must return the final page—signed—and they keep the handbook.

I update the handbook about two or three times a year, as issues come up or I think of something to add. For example, I’ve added a stricter “no show, no call” policy. Next up, I plan on creating a more structured bonus policy, as well.

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

TP: Definitely have one! It sets a professional tone.

Refer to it. As an owner, check in on the document and refresh yourself, so you don’t get caught off-guard on your own policy. This recently happened to us this summer with regard to paid vacation. The handbook helped to smooth things out.

Touch on workplace safety, for sure, but have a separate safety program in place.

Be specific with workday policies, such as smoking, start times, shop rules and cell phone usage.

Don’t focus too much on punishment. Outline the rules and reinforce kindly when issues come up.

This is posted in Cover story, September 2017
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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