Do you have an employee handbook for your greenhouse or nursery business?

Greenhouses and nurseries should have an employee handbook that outlines business and employment policies, job performance expectations and benefits you offer.

Employee handbooks are not just for large greenhouses or nurseries that employ large numbers of workers. They are an important human resources management tool that all farms should have. They will help you avoid conflicts and potential lawsuits that result from poor communication, as well as help remember promises that were agreed upon during the hiring and employment period.

Michigan State University Extension has developed a Farm Employee Handbook template that you can download and modify for your greenhouse or nursery business. It is general enough that it contains all the needs for an operation that is employing hundreds of workers, all the way down to a workforce of five.

There are three steps in using the document:

  1. Download the Farm Employee Handbook template, which is also available at MSU Extension’s Labor and Human Resource Management page.
  2. Save a copy under your farm name, then open it under a new document and perform a “Find and Replace” function in Word, finding “farm name” and replacing it with your farm name. Then, review the contents of the document starting on page 4. Sections in italics are for you to insert your own language into those sections to make it specific to your greenhouse or nursery operation.
  3. After you review and update the sections that you need to change, update the table of contents by clicking in the upper left corner of the table and selecting “Update Table.” Select “Update entire table” and then click OK.

Employee handbooks can be great communication tools, but you should also make sure you are willing and able to follow what you are putting into writing. Don’t put items in your handbook just because you think they should be included; you need to be committed to following through on everything you include.

I am confident those greenhouses and nurseries that develop their own farm employee handbook will be happy they did so when that sticky issue comes up, and they can refer to their copy to help them resolve a human resource problem.

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