When employees aren’t sure how to move forward in a given situation, whether that situation is an interpersonal conflict, requesting time off, or something as simple as ensuring the outfit they picked out is appropriate for work, your employee handbook can be (and should be) an invaluable resource. However, if you’ve been in the working world for a while, you’ve likely been a part of companies where no one uses their employee handbooks. If the document is disorganized, ugly, or stuffed with corporate nonsense, of course people aren’t going to use it! In order for people to get any real value from your employee handbook, it has to be well-made.
Below, we’ll give you some pointers so you can develop the best employee handbook possible for your company—one that’s informative, easy to follow, and meaningful.
But First, What Is An Employee Handbook?
Employee handbooks come by many names—employee manual, code of conduct, field guide, culture guide, and the list goes on—but regardless of what you call this document, it should be given to employees on their first day. Employee handbooks offer both legal and non-legal value by covering workers’ rights and mitigating any potential conflict within your company by clearly stating the protocols from the get-go. Any good employee handbook will cover employee expectations, your mission and values, HR and legal information, and employee policies such as PTO, vacation, worker’s comp, sick leave, non-discrimination, etc. Having this information right off the bat will allow employees to hit the ground running in their new roles (and prevent them from accidentally breaking a rule they didn’t know existed).
As you can see, an employee handbook is a necessity for any company, so it’s worth taking the time to get this important document right. To ensure it’s the best employee handbook it can possibly be, follow these best practices:
The Best Employee Handbook Will Have…
In all honesty, people probably aren’t dying to read the employee handbook; it tends to be viewed as an obligation, and a mildly annoying one at that. So, don’t make your employee handbook any harder for employees to read than it already is.
One of the most important considerations on this front is the organization. When the points and topics are organized in a logical way, your employee handbook becomes much more effective. If people can quickly reference the policies and procedures they need, you remove a barrier to compliance you may not have even known was there.
While the content itself should be the primary focus, a beautifully designed document can do wonders for both readability and memorability. In order to make the information as easy to process as possible, you’ll want to have the right spacing and proper contrast, clear hierarchy, consistency, and appropriate white space.
However, all decent employee handbooks will be legible, but the best employee handbook will also make use of design elements. To start, color is your friend, as a few eye-catching pops of color will help draw the reader’s attention to certain areas on the page. Similarly, don’t shy away from bold text, which can help readers skim the page better and focus on the pieces that matter most. And of course, include images where appropriate. While excessive or unnecessary images can become distracting, the proper use of imagery can be of huge benefit to employees. In fact, people follow directions 323% better when the directions include both text and illustrations instead of just text.
Although the information you’re disseminating may be complex, try to present it in the simplest way you can. While it’s a tad counterintuitive, this may mean making your handbook longer. By doing this, you can spread the information out into more digestible bites rather than cramming it into as few pages as possible, preventing your handbook from overwhelming employees with overly-dense bricks of text. Then, cut out the fluff. There’s no need to waste your employees’ time with meaningless filler. The best employee handbook will focus primarily on sharing the information that matters.
Strong Ties to Company Culture
Your employee handbook should feel like a physical artifact of your company culture. When expectations are clear and best practices for things like communication are outlined explicitly, things tend to run much smoother, and interpersonal tensions tend to fade. But, how do you tie your handbook to culture beyond stating rules and expectations? You communicate core values. What your company stands for should be stated directly, prominently, and with a brief explanation to drive the point home. That way, every employee knows what they should strive to achieve, whether it be integrity, commitment to customers, innovation, or whatever your company values may be.
As Little “Corporate” Jargon As Possible
While industry buzzwords may impress during stakeholder meetings, to employees, they tend to hold very little meaning. Not only could corporate jargon make employees feel excluded from the company, it also isn’t usually very clear—“synergy” could mean totally different things to different employees. So, instead of stuffing your handbook with corporate nonsense, stick to relatable terminology, and if you’re wanting to go above and beyond, inject some humor and playfulness. A lighthearted, casual voice will both help employees relate more to the text and make it more enjoyable to read.
Create And Manage Your Employee Handbook With ComplianceBridge
A great employee handbook is never truly done; it should evolve as new information and best practices come to light. With ComplianceBridge, managing this critical document throughout its lifecycle doesn’t have to be a burden. To start, automated workflows allow you to streamline creation, revision, approval, distribution, and reporting, ensure regular policy updates with built-in review dates, expiration dates, and reminders, and allow document editors, reviewers, and stakeholders to collaborate on one central version. When the time comes to share your handbook, you can easily send it to the exact people who need it, then publish it to a secure central location where employees can access it whenever they need to.
Are you ready to streamline your policy management and make the best employee handbook your company has ever seen? Request a demo of ComplianceBridge today!