In today’s world, companies are constantly seeking different ways to improve their employee experience. One way of doing this is having an employee handbook so that every employee knows how the company operates, what its policies are, and also its mission and goals.
Creating a handbook from scratch might seem daunting. You might be wondering what policies you should include, how to organize your handbook, and even how to publish it so everybody in the company has access to it.
Even though creating an employee handbook from scratch might take some work, it doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck. I recommend that you take a look at the following recommendations and employee handbook template so you know what to include in yours.
What Is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a document that states a company’s policies, rules, mission, and goals for all the employees. Employee handbooks often include a section where employees can get a general picture of their employer.
When a new employee joins the company, they will often receive a hard copy of the handbook so they can read it and sign it. This way, they state they agree to every term that appears in the handbook.
Now, the question is, what should you include in an employee handbook so employees are fully aware of everything they need to know?
Although all the companies have different criteria when it comes to creating an employee handbook, there are several general aspects that every handbook –no matter the industry– should include:
- The company’s mission statement
- Employee benefits
- Workplace policies
- Safety and security policies
These four points can be expanded to many other specific policies, but it is essential that these points are crystal clear to employees.
However, if you want a more complete handbook, you can include the following policies:
What Should Be Included in an Employee Handbook?
1. Employment Basics
In this section, you can include informative clauses and definitions of job-related terms. Since this is often the opening section of employee handbooks, it is a good place to clarify rules regarding attendance.
Here, you should also include the answer to the most basic questions new employees might ask, such as the way the company operates and how your company’s industry works.
2. Company’s Mission Statement
It is always a good idea to include your company’s mission statement in your employee handbook. The purpose of including this is that the employees’ and company’s goals are aligned.
Knowing what the purpose of the company is and having a clear understanding of it will help to improve the employee experience, as employees will understand the impact of their role in the bigger picture.
3. Code of Conduct
This section will let employees know the way they should act on a day-to-day basis. It is important that you specify what is acceptable and what is not within the company.
Your company’s code of conduct should reflect your company’s values and goals, as well as your overall company’s culture. This section is also the right section to include a dress code if applicable.
4. Compensation Policies
Employees need to be aware of how they will be compensated for their work. In this section, you need to clarify everything related to payments.
You should include the payment frequency, the days on which they will receive payment, and the legal framework for exempt and non-exempt employees.
5. Benefits and Perks
You need to let employees know everything related to the benefits and perks that they have as employees from the moment they join the organization.
Therefore, you should include benefits such as gym discounts, home-office days, parking benefits, issued equipment, medical insurance, etc.
An important benefit many companies are offering their employees is the chance to save thousands of dollars by refinancing their student debt with Future Fuel‘s modular platform.
6. Working Hours, Paid Time Off and Vacation Time
This section is extremely important, especially for employees. They will revise this part of the handbook carefully in order to know everything related to their vacation time and paid time off.
Here, you should explain in detail the number of hours employees have to work, the number of PTO days they will receive according to their status and also the number of vacation days allotted to them.
An important point to mention here is the process employees have to follow in order to request paid time off.
Other points you need to address in this section are sick leave policies, bereavement leave, jury duty and voting, and parental leave.
7. Employee Resignation and Termination
This is also an important part of the employment relationship. Employees want to know the process they need to follow if they wish to terminate the employment relationship. Aspects such as notice periods, relocation reimbursement, and severance pay should be addressed here.
8. Equal employment opportunities
In any modern organization, equal employment opportunity policies are a must. This guarantees that every member of the company has equal opportunities regardless of their gender, age, appearance, religion, or preferences.
9. Anti-harassment Policy
Apart from ensuring all the employees get equal employment opportunities, companies need to implement anti-harassment policies that guarantee employees are safe in the workplace.
It is important that the employee handbook includes behavioral patterns and specific actions that can be considered harassment in any of its forms.
10. Anti-retaliation Policy
An important policy for companies nowadays in the anti-retaliation policy. By implementing this policy, employees can be sure there won’t be retaliation in the workplace from any staff member.
Retaliation actions include firing, demotion, salary reduction, shift re-assignment, etc.
11. Safety and Security Policies
This is an explanatory section where employees are made aware of the safety and security procedures they need to follow within the company.
Also, this section shows how the company implements the safety regulations every company in the U.S. must comply with, according to the U.S Department of Labor.
12. Assessment Process for Promotions and Raises
This is a section that not many companies include in their employee handbooks. However, it is useful for employees to know how they can get promotions and pay raises.
It might be frustrating for employees not to know if they have growth opportunities within your company. Including this section in your company’s handbook is a way to show them that they do.
13. Welcome Letter
It is always a good idea to welcome employees with a letter from the CEO of the company. It might not seem like a big deal, but a letter from the CEO can make a big difference when it comes to the employee experience and how new members perceive the company culture.
14. A Form That Employees Can Sign
Don’t forget to add a form so employees can sign once they have read the handbook. Signing the form implies employees agree to all the terms included in the handbook.
Employee Handbook Template
Once you have decided on the points you want to include in your company’s employee handbook, you have to find the most effective way to create it and publish it.
Before you start, you must know that there isn’t any law that compels companies to create an employee handbook. Although there are things you have to inform your employees by law, it does not have to be in the form of a handbook.
That said, most modern companies prefer to create employee handbooks to avoid any kind of conflict in the organization. The reason for this is that employees might misunderstand the benefits offered, not know the company’s goals, or simply ignore how the company operates.
Since there isn’t any law that requires you to create a handbook, the way you do it is completely up to your organization’s culture.
For example, Trello displays its employee handbook digitally in its own platform using a friendly approach.
How to Create an Employee Handbook?
1. Select the Tone
You should start by choosing the tone you want to use in your handbook. Some companies prefer to use a straightforward and formal tone whereas others go for a friendlier and more appealing one.
The tone you choose should reflect your company’s culture, as this may be the first impression new employees will get upon their arrival.
2. Choose a Structure
The second point you have to decide is the structure of your employee handbook. Maybe you want to put the welcome letter at the beginning, or perhaps the mission statement.
Ideally, you want employees to feel welcomed, so including the welcome letter at the beginning is a good idea. Don’t forget to include the table of contents first.
3. Work on the Length
Employee handbooks are designed to inform employees about many different aspects of the company. However, you need to consider how long the handbook will be before publishing it.
You want employees to be well-informed, but you don’t want them to skip everything and sign the form. To avoid this, include only necessary points and don’t use wordy sentences. A friendly tone can make a big difference here.
4. Choose the Right Format
Once you have the perfect structure, the ideal tone, and the appropriate length, you have to choose the right format to publish the handbook.
Some companies prefer to hand over hard copies, while others prefer to use digital versions. Although a hard copy might look awesome and easy to read for employees, most modern companies have been benefiting from digital versions.
The reason is simple: hard copies have to be printed and this might be expensive. On the other hand, digital versions offer more advantages, as they are easy to access, inexpensive to publish, easy to update, and environmentally friendly.
Why Have an Employee Handbook?
As I mentioned before, there isn’t any specific law that requires employers to provide employees with handbooks. However, doing so offers advantages and clarifies many doubts employees might have about the company’s processes.
If you want your employees to be fully aware of your company’s policies, you should have an employee handbook for every employee in the organization to read. You can also outline your expectations and values for employees, so they know the parameters to follow.