An employee handbook is a manual that guides employees through their employment journey by explaining policies, procedures, expectations, and company culture. 

Legally, businesses don’t need an employee handbook, yet it’s an effective way to distribute required notifications, crucial information, and to communicate a company’s unique personality. Employers often give the employee handbook to new hires at the beginning of the onboarding process to acquaint them with the work culture. The employee handbook typically includes:  

  • Company story, culture, values, and mission
  • Workplace guidelines 
  • Code of Conduct
  • Employee Rights and obligations
  • Expectations between employer and employee 
  • Policies for employee leave and time off

Why should HR leaders care about the employee handbook?

In addition to the practical information, the employee handbook provides context so employees can understand their place in the company culture. The manual can help:  

  • Make a positive impression on new hires
  • Acquaint employees with the company during onboarding
  • Guide employees to make decisions that align with company values 
  • Explain the expectations, obligations, and rights of employees
  • Emphasize important policies  
  • Avoid legal issues

What can HR leaders do to create a useful employee handbook?

HR leaders should aim to create an employee handbook that is simple, easy to understand, and engaging.

HR leaders can:

  • Include mandatory notices. The employee handbook offers an organized way to provide employees with required legal information concerning their rights and obligations. 
  • Create a balance. Employee handbooks should protect confidential company information without overly restricting employee activity. HR leaders should carefully craft the employee handbook to protect the rights of the employer and employee.
  • Update policies. HR professionals should update the employee handbook and have a lawyer review it at least once a year. This process ensures that the guidebook accurately reflects the continually changing work landscape.  
  • Use a simple structure. A table of contents and a concise writing style enables easy reference to the handbook when issues arise.  
  • Make it captivating. Realistic examples, relevant workplace anecdotes, and a conversational tone can engage employees better than a dull compilation of monotonous policies. A creative design can also infuse the company’s character into the handbook and accurately represent the brand. 

How can a useful employee handbook improve company culture?

An employee handbook that sets boundaries for employees and employers, enabling a healthy, dynamic relationship between them, is fundamental to building a thriving work culture. Furthermore, informing employees on their rights, obligations, and proper workplace conduct in a casual, friendly way, can promote their positive contributions to the workplace.