An employee handbook, which can also be called an employee or policy manual, is a document that is handed to employees by their boss. It is a significant manual for all employees to have and be given whilst working with the company so that everyone has something to refer back to in terms of rules, regulations, and just general information about the business. It is not always required for employers to create and implement them, however, it is important that employees and all members of staff are aware of company rules, so it is a good idea to compile some kind of manual to ensure that everyone is on the same wavelength. This article is a complete guide to everything you will need to know about employee handbooks including, what should and should not be included in these, the importance of them and examples in case you need some inspiration to create your own.
What is an Employee Handbook?
As mentioned, an employee handbook is a document handed to employees. These can come under multiple names such as employee manual, staff handbook, or company policy manual, as said by Wikipedia. The handbook is created to assemble together information about the job as well as company details that are important for employees to know about and be aware of. If a company has an existing handbook, it is usually introduced as part of the employee induction procedure when taking on new staff. This enables employees to know right off the bat everything they need to know about the company and be knowledgeable on certain topics. This is beyond beneficial for new members joining the business, as they will have the ability to know the ins and outs of the most significant aspects straight away, allowing them to get to know the company and other employees a lot quicker and easier.
As stated by Sherrie Scott, employee handbooks can really help in contributing towards a professional working environment as they provide the expectations of those working for the company. It provides the vital information that employees need to know about their responsibilities ensuring that they complete the job roles and duties in an effective manner. Established company policies should all be listed to ensure that no staff members are confused or are not sure what they can and cannot do. The handbook should be reviewed, altered if needed and updated every once in a while to ensure that all information listed is correct and up to date so that there is no miscommunication between yourself and your employees.
It is a great way to communicate what you as the employer expect from your staff, as well as what you can provide to them in terms of a sustainable working environment. In return, providing employee handbooks can boost productivity in the workplace too, by allowing employees to feel as if they are being treated equally and are all abiding by the same rules and regulations ensures that a successful team atmosphere is created amongst everyone. If you are a small company, then it would be useful for the manager to create and distribute this handbook, however, if you are a larger company, individuals in HR are usually responsible for this job. Employees feel much more appreciated and valued when they know that guidance is available to them, so it would be prompted to implement a manual like this into your company.
What should be included?
It is important to address what should be included within an employee handbook so that you and your employees benefit from this as much as possible. Inspired by TalentLyft, here are listed 10 elements that should be incorporated into your manual. Although these are quite broad topics, they can be altered and changed depending on your company and style of work. It would also be wise to include a contents page at the beginning to ensure an easier breakdown for the reader.
Your company’s history, mission, and goals
This element should be a page or few about your company, discussing when it was founded, whether it is part of a wider franchise and just general information about the business. This is really crucial so that new (and existing) employees are knowledgeable about who they work for. It would also be a good idea to talk about the goals and mission of your company, highlighting what employees are expected to think about and work towards whilst they are part of the team. Having this as your first topic in the handbook immediately allows the reader to understand the mindset of the job role and the importance of working for you.
This section goes hand in hand with the previous one. Here, you should discuss the company’s values and what you stand for. According to Roope Heinilä, company values are the “beliefs, philosophies and principles that drive your business”, so it is vital that this is included to ensure that employees are aware of what it means to work for your company. Examples of company values that you either already have or should think about are honesty, integrity, accountability, and fairness. These, along with others should be listed and go on to be explained in further detail how and why these are important.
Influences of the company
Here, you should discuss the influences the way your business works. This should talk about the influential skills required by staff to help provide a productive environment. In order to create success in the workplace, influence must be present amongst everyone so that employees can work together proficiently. In return, you should also highlight that gaining influence in the workplace can actually make you more appreciated and respected by others. This section does not need to be overly long but all important aspects should be covered in order for the point to be put across successfully.
HR and legal information related to employment
This section is very significant and should be well written and complex. Listed in this section should be all the important information that every employee should know about in terms of human resources and all legal aspects relating to their job. These should include information regarding employee laws, their rights and where they can go for further help or expertise regarding issues relating to these. This aspect can cover things such as training, recruitment processes, pay rates, and workplace issues in general; these are all very vital elements that employees should know about, so this particular part of the handbook should be cohesive.
All your company policies should be compiled here, to ensure that all of your employees are aware of what rules and regulations are set that they need to adhere to. You probably have quite a lot of policies, in which you do not need to go into a lot of depth about every single one of them, but they should all be listed down. This will most likely be the biggest challenge when writing and putting together your employee handbook, so it is important to take time in ensuring this is written to the best of the compiler’s ability. Example policies you could include here include: general employment policies and practices, anti-discrimination policy, health, and safety policy and attendance and leave of absence policy.
Employee benefits must be outlined in the employee handbook, so that staff knows about the benefits that they are entitled to whilst working for you and the company. These benefits may include paid sick days, health insurance, retirement benefits, and life insurance. Every company has its own personalized employee benefits, so only list and discuss the ones that are applicable to you. Each benefit that you write down should go into detail about what it entails and any terms and conditions that may apply so that your employees are aware of what they are allowed to do or have access to.
Within this part of the handbook, you would create a list of words or phrases that are commonly used within your company workspace. These are generally ‘jargon’ phrases that are linked to your field of work and ones that will help new employees to understand and settle in easier. Giving examples and a brief definition of said words or phrases, it will ensure that employees are meeting criteria set by your company and doing it in a completely professional manner.
This aspect will be primarily for new employees recruited, discussing the process of recruitment and what they can expect from the company and other employees both at the beginning of their employment but also throughout their time with you. This is a really important part to include in the handbook, as it will make new employees feel a lot more comfortable when starting as a newbie. Being a new employee can be very daunting, so outlining what they can expect from their first few days, as well as important information they need to know will most definitely ensure that they will feel more settled than they would be without this.
Who does what – introduction to staff
This would be really beneficial for both new employees and existing employees. If you have a larger company with many staff members, not everyone may be familiar with each other. Including images (if employees are happy with it) and staff names, this will allow them to feel more included with and create a collaborative environment. This can really help new employees too, if they are aware of who they are working alongside, as well as people in their department and those in wider departments, it will make them feel as if they are already part of the team.
Having a section at the back of the handbook dedicated to frequently asked questions by new employees and those already working for the team. Doing this and giving detailed answers will ensure that employees are knowledgeable in all aspects needed and have little to be questionable about. Yet again, this will allow new workers to feel as if they know everything they need to before starting their new job. However, make it known that employees can still go to you for any help or advice if they require it.
What should not be included?
On the other hand, there are certain things that you should perhaps steer away from when creating your employee handbook. Listed here are those aspects that must be avoided so that both you and your employees benefit from this greatly.
As mentioned earlier, the handbook should be updated and changed if need be, so you must take off policies that are no longer valid or you do not cover. This will prevent any unwanted problems or issues that may happen as a result of accidentally keeping in rules that are incorrect.
It is important to note that handing over an employee handbook is not a contract, neither is it a document outlining what the company exactly brings to the employee. You should avoid implying promises to the employee, by ensuring that the information is strictly factual and all terms are enlisted. This can be done by using words like “may” rather than “will” so that the employee understands the boundaries.
This should most definitely be avoided when creating your handbook. By stating that there is a ‘probationary period’ suggests that the employee’s status will change once they have completed this specific amount of time. Of course, it will not change, so the best way to ensure that new employees know this is through not including anything about a probationary period.
Not having an anti-harassment policy
As said by SHRM, the anti-harassment policy is arguably the most important one to have in general as well as an important one to include in the handbook. It is vital that as an employer, you help employees learn about harassment and what they should do if this happens to them in the workplace. If this policy and procedure is not included, then this can really have a negative effect on employees and can cause serious problems within the company environment.
Not ensuring it is user-friendly
The handbook should be precise and concise and not be filled with too much unnecessary information. It is impossible to detail every single situation that may happen in the workplace, so keeping it cohesive in this sense will make sure that the employee reading it gets the most beneficial use from this.
What is the importance of an employee handbook?
Having an employee handbook, as mentioned, is a really important document and principal to bring into the company and workplace. This is because it ensures that all employees are on the same page and makes sure that they are aware of absolutely everything that they need to know whilst working for you and your company.
By doing this, it helps to boost productivity as everyone can collaboratively make decisions and create actions that are both suitable for the organization and that go alongside the rules and regulations set in the handbook. Incorporating information and policies relating to all departments helps all staff members to understand how they are supposed to complete their work, therefore allowing them to do this quicker and more efficiently. This also goes in hand with the vital aspect of producing income sooner than if the handbook was not available.
A majority of jobs provide training to new employees, however this training period can be shortened if some of the information and procedures are located into a manual given to them. By doing this, it allows employees to settle in and begin to work efficiently a lot sooner after joining the company. Additionally, employees are important in the systematic side of things. Creating and compiling this document ensures that everything is listed and organised, allowing consistency between employers and employees and the relationship connecting the two can be improved.
This can really help with interactions within the workplace and permits every staff member to understand their expectations. Having an employee handbook is also important in helping employees know what their rights are at work and more specifically, whilst working for your company. It acts as a “point of reference”, as said by Steve Pritchard when an individual does not know what to do when a situation arises. The handbook is a document that will outline procedures and policies that will be of great help in certain circumstances that they may need advice on.
Another significant factor of employee handbooks is that they can help to protect your company’s online reputation. Within the manual you should have a section discussing the expectations set to employees on how they act both in and outside of the workplace, meaning they must represent themselves as an employee online as professionally as possible.
You can prevent any statements that may be negative or damaging to your company’s brand by discussing the guidelines for how the company should be mentioned online and how the employees should present themselves in such situations. Another important reason for having an employee handbook that may get forgotten about is that it is a great way to introduce the company to new staff members. Although they would be given a great introduction in person, giving them an employee handbook with everything set out, will make the transition a lot easier for them. In return, this will give a good first impression which is always the mission, and may lead to others wanting to join the company through word of mouth.
Examples, Templates and Software you can use
Here are listed a few examples and templates that you can use to create your own employee handbook, as well as software and document programs you can use.
This PDF is 34 pages long and is very clear on what to include and in what section. The handbook begins with a contents page which would be a great way to plan and present the information you would like to have within the manual. It finishes with a page where the employee has to date and sign the handbook, which is good for creating a more personalized feel.
This website lists an example template for an employee handbook but also has a contract and staff handbook if this is required by your company too. This regularly gets updated so ensure that the information you provide is also up to date to ensure there is no possible miscommunication or issues regarding it.
This template was created and written by HR professionals, so it would definitely be one to consider looking at or using. You must remember to customize it though to fit your company and field of work so that it matches all your requirements.
BambooHR is a company online which caters to small and medium-sized businesses. They have a great set of software available to use if you want to create your own employee handbook from scratch. It is simple to sign up and gain more information on it if needed.
This is another HR company that provides software for many things HR-related. This is really simple to navigate and you can also find more information on a range of other Human Resources elements. You may find it helpful to save this website for future reference too!
So, to conclude, it is pretty obvious that having an employee handbook to give to all employees (both new and existing) is a really important step forward for your company. It is a great way to help organize your company policies and regulations, as well as contribute to the improvement of the systematic side of things within the workplace. It ensures that legally, you are providing employees with all up-to-date and significant information that they vitally need to know and be aware of whilst working with your organization. Recapping this point, we can see that this is really beneficial in allowing employee appreciation and staff relationships to expand and be present.