What, then, makes a quality employee handbook? In its most straightforward form, it’s a document that combines several essential things you’re legally required to inform your employees about. At its best, it's a friendly companion that helps employees answer obscure policy questions, without taking up your HR team’s time.
What to put in your handbook
Some companies choose to include every departmental policy in their handbook. This can become a massive undertaking, particularly if you're a growing business that’s making new policies on the fly. There are, however, specific items just about any good employer will specify in their company handbook:
- Employment-at-will policy
- Equal opportunity employment policy
- Reasonable accommodations policy
- Leave-of-absence policy
- Policies on tardiness or absenteeism
- Equal pay policy
- Maternal and paternal leave policy
- Education reimbursement
- Retirement profit-sharing
- Tobacco-free workplace policy
- Workplace dress code
Where to put your handbook
A handbook nobody can find does you little good. That could lead to a sticky situation if an employee challenges the fact that you made your company policy hard to find and left them unaware they were disobeying the rules.
Make sure all your employees get a hard copy of your company handbook on day one. They’ll probably misplace it, which is why you should make it available to all employees digitally as well. And it doesn't stop there. We recommend collecting a companywide confirmation with signatures stating that employees have read the handbook and understand any changes.
The way you format your handbook can also make it much simpler to update. Instead of using an outdated PDF, as many people assume you should do, try using HTML. You can also use scripting to build your handbook using some other easy-to-update technology, like Trello's board-based handbook that uses their proprietary technology.
Getting people to engage with your handbook
Using an attractive, streamlined format is an excellent way to get people excited about looking through your handbook. If you need some inspiration, there are lots of great examples of employee handbooks available online.
Humans have become accustomed to at-your-fingertips information, so making your handbook simple to use is a must. We suggest having a clickable table of contents, an integrated search feature or even using one of the novel formats many high-tech companies are adopting, such as a video or a dedicated website.
Add high-quality content to make your handbook appealing and rich. Doing so will have the added benefit of communicating to your new hires that hey, we like it here! Don't skimp on the self-promotional content. It's smart strategy to open your handbook with a mission statement and some engaging background about the company to help inspire your hires.
Sound like a challenge?
Starting an employee handbook from scratch might be a bigger undertaking than you initially assumed. Defining policies can be tough, particularly if your company is thriving and moving quickly.
However, with the right tools and know-how, you can put it all in one place and ensure everyone at your company is well-informed and knows where to go if they ever have a question. It should make their lives easier. It could even save you from a lawsuit someday. That's the value of a good handbook!
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