Your Guide to Creating an Employee Handbook

Oct 08, 2018

Your Guide to Creating an Employee Handbook

Creating an employee handbook is a great way to set out your expectations as well as your company aims and ethos. We look at how to create one right here.


Are you wasting paper and printer toner making handbooks that no one reads? Or, are you spending valuable time sending it via email to your staff?

Here's the truth: if your employees don't feel motivated to read it, they won't.

There are a ton of ways to write an employee handbook that actually gets read. You can still include important rules and guidelines. But, the way you put this important book together must change.

Creating an employee handbook can be easy. These steps will take it from paper waste to the important file; keep reading to find out how.

1. Don't Be Dull

One reason your employees don't care about the handbook is that it's boring. Employee handbooks are often written like legal contracts full of threats.

Consider how you talk to your staff. Do you encourage open and approachable conversation? Your handbook should reflect that.

Employees will respond better to handbooks written by a friendly and approachable voice. Feel free to use more casual language, occasional slang, and humor. Be clear and concise but remember to make it personable.

This step will ensure your employees at least open the first page.

2. Employee Perks

Take a page or two to explain the company mission and your employees' roles in that. But, then get straight to the good stuff. What are the perks of working for your company?

Here's your chance to romance your employees. Talk about all the different benefits you offer full-time and part-time employees. Discuss the discounts your employees can get at different retailers.

Company culture is a huge factor in employees enjoying their jobs. If you don't have one already, consider starting a Culture Committee. This is a group of employees who arrange different events and contests for everyone.

Monthly sales incentives, giveaways, and contests boost company culture and productivity. Make sure your employee handbook states why your company is awesome to work for.

3. Specific Expectations

It's not all fun and games. Sometimes, you have to get down to the nitty-gritty. Your employee handbook must outline the specific expectations you have for your staff.

This section should include accurate working hours for all holidays. It should tell full time and part time workers how much they're expected to work. Explain when and how overtime comes into play.

Some companies are flexible with start time by a couple of minutes; others are not. Make your stance clear.

Remember that even though this section is serious, it doesn't have to be dull. Use approachable language and humor when appropriate.

4. Professionalism

Your customers and clients are integral to your company's success. If they aren't treated well, you lose profits.

The employee handbook should explain what professionalism looks like in your workplace. Talk about dress code, appearance, and hygiene.

The way your staff answers the phone and corresponds with customers is a big deal. You may want to write an example of a bad customer service interaction and a stellar one. Show them how you expect them to talk to customers.

You can also discuss professionalism within the company.

If they're unhappy with an aspect of their job, what should they do? Are they welcome and safe to bring it up with management? Or are they left to gossip with other employees?

An open-door policy will reduce the gossip and negativity spread between employees.

5. Health and Safety

Alas, another section no one wants to read. How can you make health and safety fun to read about?

Consider creating a fictional story that includes your employees (with their permission). Talk about what might happen if Jerry doesn't clean up the water he spilled, and Martha falls. What might happen if people stop washing their hands well after using the bathroom?

Of course, some health and safety topics can't get joked about. For example, labeling of chemicals and fire protocol are extra serious. Use your discretion.

The key is to make this information interesting to read while still being clear. You want your employees to stay safe and healthy at work. Reading the employee manual is the first step to guaranteeing that.

6. Consequences

Every workplace has consequences for employees who don't perform or act out. Including this section in the handbook shows your transparency and acts as a warning.

What happens if an employee doesn't show up for work? What happens if someone gets caught smoking in the bathroom? Are there consequences for not meeting the minimum sales quota?

This section is about consequences, not threats. It's better to motivate employees to work well rather than scare them with punishment.

Be as realistic and upfront as you can in this section. You have expectations for your employees. If you're going to treat them well, then they need to take their jobs seriously.

7. Fun Nuggets

You can make the employee handbook interesting and fun to read by including nuggets. These are little bits of entertainment that keep the reader engaged.

Here are some awesome examples:

  • Memes and pictures
  • Comprehension quizzes
  • Puzzles, crosswords, and jokes

You could also include rip-out coupons that employees can exchange for a free lunch. Springing for colored ink and high-quality paper will also boost the appeal of the handbook.

This step isn't about making your employee handbook kid-friendly. It's about including elements that the reader can enjoy amidst serious topics. It'll ensure they keep flipping the page and reading on.

Want to Learn More About Creating an Employee Handbook?

It's important for your employees to feel aligned with your company's mission. They should feel valued and motivated to work hard for you. One way you can do this is by creating an employee handbook that stands out.

Use language that is approachable and include humor when appropriate. Discuss serious topics with clarity. Include fun nuggets to make them want to read more.

For more tips on rocking your HR initiatives and boosting employee productivity, check out HR Branches blog.


Disclaimer: HR Branches provides general information about Human Resources. Please note that the information provided, while reliable, is not legal advice. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location and circumstances. The purpose of this information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance on general HR matters.

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