Essential Elements of an Employee Handbook

Essential Elements of an Employee Handbook

Employee handbooks promote a positive culture within your organization. They set the tone and establish expectations equally across all levels. What are the essential elements of an effective handbook? Let’s break it down.

The Basics

The purpose of handbooks, staff manuals, or whatever you choose to call them, is to orient employees to your company and its policies. It should contain all the information every employee needs to know on their first day and serve as a point of reference throughout their employment. When done right, the handbook makes any employee more equipped to function comfortably and efficiently in your organization.

The Details

It might seem like a tall order, but with careful attention crafting a handbook that does all that is totally possible. Everyone handbook is different and as unique as the organization they represent, but the best ones share the following common elements:

  • The company mission statement
  • A clear description of company values
  • HR information, including how to reach out for assistance or to report problems
  • Legal information, especially regarding non-discrimination practices
  • The rights and obligations of employees
  • What employees can expect from the company
  • Policies regarding vacation, sick leave, etc.
  • Information about background checks for employment and how the reports will be used
  • Details about company drug testing policies and ongoing background checks

Throughout the document, the company culture can shine through. The tone, the graphics, and the entire presentation of the handbook can clearly communicate who your organization is and what you stand for.

The Benefits

There’s no law that says you must have a handbook. It’s totally your choice. That said, there are laws about notifying employees of certain legal rights and policies, and a handbook is an efficient and effective way to comply. Other benefits include the following:

  • Mitigating conflict within the organization
  • Helping new employees find crucial information
  • Communicating the company mission statement and values
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Conveying details about dress codes, parking, time off, and other important company info

The Execution

The options for executing an effecting handbook are limitless. Looking at examples can help you develop a vision for what you want yours to look like. You’ll find a variety of approaches such as the following:

  • Powerpoint presentations that are straightforward and to the point
  • Simple handbooks that focus on one or two core principles
  • Seamless handbooks that link corporate values with actionable policies
  • Readable books that are a pleasure to peruse
  • Online manuals that are scrollable and searchable

Whatever medium you choose, being creative, clear, and clever will help you reach your employees.

The only rule about handbooks really is to have one. Get started on yours today.

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