Employers often create employee handbooks for their staff members to read and refer to regularly. These documents are indispensable for educating employees and onboarding them into your organization. But what makes an employee handbook valuable? What steps can you take to write a more effective employee handbook?
The Value of an Employee Handbook
Let’s start by explaining why having an effectively written employee handbook is so valuable:
· Employee education. This is the first, and perhaps best, opportunity you’ll have to educate your employees on employer expectations, job performance, and how to succeed in this organization. You can clarify misconceptions, set consistent rules and regulations, and make employees feel more confident when joining the team.
· Smoother, more consistent onboarding. Having an employee handbook document also leads to a smoother, more consistent onboarding experience. While it’s still important to have conversations and individual interactions, this document gives employees valuable introductory information.
· Conflict prevention. Reading and regularly consulting the employee handbook leads to conflict prevention. When employees better understand the rules and expectations of this environment, they’re more likely to fit into the organization smoothly.
· HR relief. Employee handbooks are also a way to reduce the workload of your HR department. Employees have an opportunity to resolve their own questions before reaching out to a representative.
How to Write a More Effective Employee Handbook
These are some of the best strategies you can use to write a more effective employee handbook:
· Invest in the process. The more time and effort you invest into this process, the more valuable your employee handbook will be. Rather than treating this as an annoying requirement, treat it as a serious project that deserves your full attention. Research your topics carefully, take your time writing, and get feedback from multiple decision makers before moving forward. When it’s time to print your employee handbook, splurge on high-quality paper, spiral bound printing, and a nice cover, recommends Printingcenterusa.com.
· Detail your mission, vision, and values. Include some information at the beginning of the employee handbook about your mission, vision, and values. This can help set the tone for each employee’s onboarding experience and help you develop a more consistent internal culture.
· Include every relevant section. Employee handbooks should cover many different topics, including the organizational culture, rules and requirements of the workplace, legal entitlements, employee benefits, protocols for paid time off (PTO), and more. If your handbook is going to be effective, it needs to be comprehensive. Cover as many topics as are relevant to your employees.
· Make your content fun and engaging. Two-thirds of HR reps admit that “getting employees to read their organization’s handbook” is challenging, and for somewhat obvious, understandable reasons. In most organizations, the employee handbook is a bland, uninteresting legal document that’s boring to read. You can incentivize employees to read your employee handbook more thoroughly if you make the content fun and engaging. Try to make it personal and approachable, with easy-to-read sentences and a light, potentially even humorous tone.
· Summarize FAQs. Anticipate some of the questions your employees are going to ask you after reading this document, and summarize the answers in an FAQ section. This way, employees can get the information they’re seeking faster – and you can avoid your HR department being bombarded with common questions.
· Create an index. To make your employee handbook even easier to search, consider creating a thorough index in the back. Indexing software can make this a breeze, and You can find it in most modern word processors, says Masterclass.
· Make the handbook available in multiple formats/mediums. Next, provide the employee handbook in a variety of formats to your employees to maximize their chances of reading it and consulting it when they need it. At a minimum, you should circulate printed copies and make digital copies available.
· Update your employee handbook regularly. This isn’t a static document. Be sure to revisit and update your employee handbook regularly, especially if you plan on changing any rules or restrictions. Plan to review your handbook at least once a year.
· Provide sources of additional help. Some of your employees will still have questions or concerns after reading the employee handbook from start to finish, says SHRM. Point these employees in the right direction by providing them with additional sources of help, such as contact information for an HR rep.
Finally, consider gathering feedback from the employees who have read and used your handbook. Do they feel this is a comprehensive and informative document? Do they have any questions, concerns, or complaints about it? What steps can you take to make it even better in the next iteration?
Use this feedback, as well as the feedback you get in the future to gradually sculpt your employee handbook to perfection.
Last Updated: May 12, 2023