If you haven’t created an employee handbook for your business yet — you’re not alone. An employee handbook can be incredibly useful in communicating essential information to employees and building a positive workplace culture, but it’s not easy to develop one. Getting employees to read the handbook is another battle.
Having an employee handbook isn’t something some employers think about until there’s a pressing need. This is especially true in small businesses that often operate administratively on an as-needed basis.
However, this can easily lead to miscommunication, confusion, and chaos. For this reason, creating an employee handbook should be non-negotiable.
A 1st step is understanding the importance of the employee handbook to business success. It also helps to examine effective employee handbooks developed by other businesses.
Next we cover the fundamentals of employee handbooks, plus offer 7 handbook examples you can learn from.
An employee handbook is sometimes called an employee field guide or a employee manual. It provides new hires and employees with information about the company, such as its:
For new hires, this information is vital to getting started on their 1st day. After reading the handbook, they should have a solid understanding of the company, including how things are done and what’s expected of them. This helps them approach their work with more confidence and increases their efficiency right off the bat.
For existing employees, the handbook serves as a point of reference they can turn to whenever they need certain workplace information, such as payroll procedures or their employment rights.
New hires should receive the handbook by their 1st day of work. Existing employees should get a copy of the handbook each time it is updated.
Each company is different. Therefore, your employee handbook should address the unique elements of your business and work environment, including company values and objectives.
Typically though, the best employee handbooks usually include the following information:
1. Leverage Modern Technology and Digital Accessibility: In today's digital age, it is critical to highlight the importance of making your employee handbook accessible online and via mobile devices. In addition to this improving the employee experience, it also makes it easier for HR managers to update and distribute the handbook efficiently. Using technology to create interactive and engaging digital handbooks that include multimedia elements such as videos, infographics, and search functionalities will help keep the content engaging and move business operations to paperless.
2. Include COVID-19 Policies and Remote Work Guidelines: Given the recent global events and the rise of remote work, it's essential to add a section on COVID-19 policies and remote work guidelines to your employee handbook. Covering these topics help employees understand the company's response to the pandemic, safety measures, and remote work expectations.
3. Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives: It is absolutely necessary to dedicate a significant portion of your employee handbook to diversity, equity, and inclusion in order to showcase your company's commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace. In the template, highlight your organization's policies and initiatives related to DEI, including training programs, anti-discrimination policies, and reporting mechanisms. Promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace for not only legal compliance but also for the positive impact it has on employee morale, productivity, and innovation.
There is no law requiring you to have an employee handbook. However, many federal and state laws require employers to inform employees of their rights in the workplace. Your staff handbook is one of the best ways to deliver this information to your employees.
The employee handbook outlines the company’s code of conduct, so that employees know which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. It also explains the consequences of poor behavior. This can deter employees from engaging in toxic conduct and encourage them to adopt healthy behaviors and attitudes.
Employee handbooks can help new employees feel at home in their work environments. Learning about the company’s history, mission, and core values can increase employee engagement and loyalty.
It’s important to create an employee handbook as soon as you have a mission statement and know what information you’re required to share or want to share with your employees.
Even if you know what needs to go into your employee handbook, such as company policy, you may still struggle to envision what it’s supposed to look like. This is where examples come in. It’s a lot easier to know how your handbook should look when you have real-world examples to work from.
[blockquote full-width="true"]While they can serve as inspiration, your own employee handbook needs to reflect the characteristics of your company, including personality, norms, and legal requirements.[/blockquote]
Keep in mind, though, that examples are just that. While they can serve as inspiration, your own employee handbook needs to reflect the characteristics of your company, including personality, norms, and legal requirements.
To narrow things down, you can search online for employee handbook examples that are specific to your industry or culture.
The 7 examples we provided above give some insight into how to create an attractive handbook that employees will want to read. But in the end, it's vital to tailor your employee handbook to your own business requirements.
You will need a firm understanding of your company’s foundation, mission, core values, employment law requirements, and more. For best results, consult with your legal team.
To make things easier for you, TriNet offers free employee handbook template so you can start building your employee handbook today!
This article has been updated.