Is your employee handbook confounding, incomplete, or forgettable?
Few people like rules, even when they’re getting paid to follow them. An employee handbook can seem like a stuffy, stern, and restrictive set of commandments that make staff feel more watched than welcomed. Employee engagement is already worryingly low, and handbooks will be going unread as a result.
Too many employers make their handbooks a chore to read. Even worse, some forego them entirely. A great handbook is an asset and an ally. It protects everybody in the workplace, boosts productivity, and helps positively reinforce your company culture.
What your employee handbook should contain
Your handbook is the go-to guide for your business policies, procedures, and code of conduct. Handbooks should clearly define what acceptable behavior in your business is and what isn’t. This promotes a sense of safety and security for staff while protecting employers.
No guidelines for conduct are an open door for lawsuits. A handbook helps cover your business in the event of employee misdeeds. The court will want to know your company policies and if you did anything to dissuade the damaging behavior. You can prove it by handing them your handbook. This puts you in a far better position than saying you did nothing to prevent it.
Compliance with existing law is vital, even when handbooks aren’t required
Handbooks aren’t required by law, but there are things you’re legally required to tell your staff. The U.S. Department of Labor has standards that will help shape your handbook and inform employees of their rights. Individuals with disabilities must not be discriminated against, nor should any person on grounds like race, gender, religion or sexuality.
Those rights are universal, but some of your handbook content will be sector, state, or federally specific. Check with your local area authorities to find which apply to you. This government resource (and this one) will help you understand what’s expected of a good employer and what your handbook should cover.
It should also contain the disclaimer that it isn’t a legally binding contract, but rather an organic set of guidelines that you can alter or amend at any time.
Next, your handbook should help reinforce your culture
Policy, procedure, and code of conduct all define your company culture. It’s the term “culture” that people respond to more than the other three. Employers should include the following to make them feel good about their job:
- Why are you proud of your business?
- What’s the most important aspect of your culture?
- What makes your business stand out from the crowd?
- How do you aim to keep your staff happy, safe, and valued
These points help handbooks create a personal connection. When that exists, employee engagement takes a sharp upturn and productivity along with it. An engaged team is more likely to read and follow your other workplace policies and procedures such as sick days, dress code, payment methods, and vacation time.
Make sure your word choice is crystal clear on procedures and policies. Confusion is the least of your worries; terms which seem reasonable on paper can be illegal in practice.
Be creative with your employee handbook and go big
Adding some flair to your handbook and its distribution helps ensure your staff doesn't file it under “forget.” This is an important document, but it doesn't have to be a drag. Launch it with gusto and draw attention to it; an email celebrating its arrival is too easily missed.
Make the handbook the center of attention and introduce it to everyone. Consider offering incentives for good behavior. Little touches like loading the handbook onto free flash drives and distributing them to your team. Rewards and free stuff are two easy roads to employee engagement.
Now browse these examples from other companies. They show how handbooks can be a vibrant and entertaining way to enforce your company culture. Color pallets, fonts, graphics, and images all liven up what could be a very dull read. Utilize language and tone that align with your core values, and you'll have a handbook that’s part of the home team, not homework.
These tips will get you started on an effective employee handbook. When you’ve got the staff and want to keep them, we’re here to keep them engaged.
CrewHu makes it our business to keep you happy by making sure your customers and employees are, too. We offer a range of tools to help our clients maximize customer feedback, reward and retain employees, and generate results. You can drop by our site for a live chat or give us a call at 786-571-7477