A good employee handbook is essential for onboarding new employees, but if we’re being honest, nobody really likes reading them. But we’re here to tell you that it is possible to create a compelling employee handbook that your employees will love reading (and that will actually help them do their jobs better, too). In this article, we’ll explore how to make a good employee handbook.
As you get started, be prepared to throw outdated practices out the window and rethink the whole idea of a handbook.
Why? One recent study showed this:
Millennials don’t want to read your employee handbook
..and almost 50 percent didn’t read most of the last one they got.
Employee handbooks are still important, but it’s time to give them a facelift (maybe even give them a new name). Aim to create something clear, concise, and helpful that your employees will actually use and read.
As you begin the process of compiling your handbook, stay true to this mantra:
Eliminate confusing jargon
Only include relevant information
Keep things brief
This approach will help guide you as you craft something your employees can actually use.
What is an Employee Handbook?
At its core, an employee handbook is a guide given to employees by their employers that details company policy and anything else an employee would need to know to successfully thrive in the workplace. This book, print or digital, is given to employees on or before the first day of work so that the employee can acculturate to the company quickly. It’s also something employees should be able to turn to continuously as questions arise in their day-to-day jobs.
What is In an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook can be customized to each specific company, but generally, they contain the following:
- Company policies
- Company culture
- Legal policies
- Company grievance policy
- Benefits information
- Dress code
- Company procedures
- HR information
- Company mission statement and values
- Employee rights
How to Make a Good Employee Handbook
When drafting an employee handbook for your company, here are a few ways to make sure it’s a valuable resource, and not a complete slog to read:
1. Make It Conversational
No one wants to read a stuffy textbook.
If you want to know how to make a good employee handbook, start with tone. A less formal, more conversational tone will convey your message to new employees without seeming stuffy or boring.
2. Tell Stories
Did you know that the best way to help get a point across is to tell a story?
Hearing stories stimulates the whole brain.
People remember stories because it all comes down to being human (something we in “human” resources know is important). We are drawn to actual events and narratives.
Adding in some storytelling will help communicate your brand and company culture in a way that is memorable and personal.
3. Focus on Your Brand
If you want happy employees, make sure to share the heart of the company in the employee handbook so that they know what your company is all about from the get-go.
Happy employees turn out to be great brand advocates. You can focus on what the brand stands for and means. Give them brand values that they can aspire to live.
Give stories about where your brand came from and why it’s so important they live the brand. Then inspire them to become the brand themselves. This is the fun stuff (but SO important) so be sure to make this a huge part of the handbook.
4. Give Information Employees Actually Want
Start by giving employees an overview about what makes working at your company so amazing. Then give them information that will actually help them navigate the first couple weeks. In this section, pictures are always appreciated.
Provide helpful information about how your people dress (pictures from a normal day around the office aren’t a bad idea) or include information about the company break room (a map or more pics).
Try to address the information that is considered tribal knowledge of your company culture. Help your new employees understand and contribute to your company culture as quickly as possible.
Employees really want to know what it’s like to work for your company and usually won’t wade through the drudgery if there’s no payout.
5. Design Matters – Make It Bold & Beautiful
Good design goes a long way. Use your brand colors and a bold design that will make new hires want to open the handbook (and existing employees re-read it).
Hire a graphic designer and a photographer to help you create a guide that is timeless, unique, and fitted to your company. Give your employee handbook a big dose of character. Use pictures of your real employees having fun and being together—not stock photos of cheesy, much-too-perfect people pretending to be working.
Artistry can be the difference between a handbook that employees want to crack open and one that they won’t touch.
6. Take It Digital
Make your handbook available in print and digital formats.
A digital handbook has the potential to become an interactive experience when you include fun elements like videos and quizzes.
Digital handbooks are also great for new hires to receive before they start their first day on-site.
But don’t worry..
You can include a PDF version that can be printed off for those that still want a hardcopy version.
Give your employees a reason to be excited about coming to your company. Make your employee handbook something you’re proud to share!