Corporate attorneys often work together with human resources personnel to develop employment and policy manuals. These manuals set expectations and guidelines for employees and must adhere to governing employment laws. And because a manual is considered a legal document, it's important to be sure that wording is appropriate and that you include all relevant topics.
Your employment manual typically goes through several revisions as you create it. For example, after you create the initial draft, you send the document to members of the human resources department for review and revision. They make changes in their turn and send the manual back to you for further review and revisions.
This revision cycle plays an important role in creating a manual that is both legally correct and reflects the company's culture and goals.
Track changes while you revise
During the revision cycle, it is important for both you and reviewers in the human resources department to be able to identify changes before making any final decisions. You can use the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Office Word 2003 to display where text has been formatted, added, or removed from the document.
Add comments for clarity
You can add comments to explain or draw attention to specific sections of the employment manual for other reviewers. Comments are displayed in a different color for each reviewer—making the comments easy to identify.
Sending the document for review
After you make changes to the manual, you can send it back to the human resources department by using the Mail Recipient (for Review) command in Word 2003. This feature plays an important part in the revision cycle for the following reasons:
- You can send the document to multiple reviewers simultaneously.
- When you send a document for review, the reviewing tools are automatically activated. Reviewers don't need to set up anything or turn on anything—they can immediately start revising.
- You are reminded of any deadlines by the follow-up flag in the reviewed document.
- You are automatically prompted to merge any changes back into the original document when you open a file that has been returned from a reviewer.
Send back the document with changes
After you finish making changes to the employment manual, you can send it back to the human resources department for further review with the click of a button. The Reply with Changes feature automatically sends the document to the person who had originally sent it for review.
Review changes to the document
It doesn't matter how many people are involved in the revision cycle or how many changes they make to the document—the Reviewing toolbar contains features that make it easy for you to move from one proposed change to the next and choose whether to accept or reject each one.
There might be times when you need to place restrictions on the revision process. In Word 2003, you can use built-in protection features as well as Information Rights Management (IRM) to prevent others from making changes to specific sections of your document. You can also place restrictions on editing rights and set expiration dates for editing privileges.
Remove hidden information
After you finalize the employment manual, you need to remove any hidden information—known as metadata—from the document. You can remove some metadata automatically when, for example, you accept or reject tracked changes. However, if you intend to make the manual available electronically, you still need to remove additional metadata from the file.
Collaborating on a valuable asset
An employment manual is a valuable to asset to every company. Corporate attorneys and human resources personnel must work together to create a document that balances legal matters with the values and culture of the company. The collaboration tools available in Word 2003 offer you streamlined solutions to coordinate this effort.
About the author Tara Byers is Vice President of Development for Payne Consulting Group, a software training and development company headquartered in Seattle, Washington.