How to Create an Employee Handbook That Covers All the Bases

Your company is growing, and it’s exciting!

But sometimes, let’s face it, it can be hard to keep up.

When you’ve got a lot on your plate — like recruiting on a tight budget and writing tons of job offer letters — the last thing you’re thinking about is communicating HR policies.

Want to get new employees up to speed fast? Your best bet is an employee handbook.

I know, I know. Creating an employee handbook seems like a lot of work.

Don’t sweat it, though. Read on, and you’ll be sending yours out in no time.

What’s an employee handbook — and why should I have one?

An employee handbook is a living document that explains policies, behavioral expectations, compensation and benefits information, and more to everyone at your company.

Some companies, especially small to mid-sized businesses, don’t believe they have enough employees to warrant a handbook. But for a variety of reasons, you should take the time to create one.

For starters, employee handbooks are a great (and efficient!) way to communicate certain workplace rights to your employees — something you’re required to do by law.

Plus, an employee handbook will solidify your company’s policies and can help streamline your training process for new hires — not to mention help you build company culture.

So, look: An employee handbook is worth it. Even if you don’t see its value right off the bat, it’ll no doubt make your life easier in the long run.

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What every employee handbook should include

Now, for the intimidating part: actually writing your handbook.

Want to get a leg up? Start by including these six sections.

  • Company story

It’s your company’s time to shine! Share how your organization got started and what the mission statement is.

  • Company policies, which might include:
    • At-will employment clause
    • Equal employment opportunity statement
    • Confidentiality agreement
    • Any other employer or employee rights
  • Office environment and culture. For example:
    • Dress code
    • Work hours
    • Remote work policy
    • Perks
  • Compensation information, such as:
    • Payroll/bonus schedule
    • Performance review information
    • Structure for raises
  • Benefits
    • Insurance offerings
    • Retirement plans
    • PTO policy
    • Other leave policies, like family and sick leave
  • Exit procedures
    • When they’ll receive their final paycheck
    • Exit interview protocol
    • Non-compete agreement
    • How COBRA benefits work

Writing your employee handbook: Easy dos and don’ts

Now that we’ve covered the content, let’s talk about employee handbook best practices. Here are some dos and don’ts.

DON’T:

  • Limit yourself

While including those six sections above will set a good foundation for your employee handbook, don’t feel like you need to include all of them — or any of them.

The most important thing to remember when writing your employee handbook is that it’s yours. Include what’s significant to your company and leave out what doesn’t matter.

For example, if your company has a lenient dress code, you might not feel the need to include that in your handbook. But, if you have a strict “no social media during work hours” policy, then you’ll want to make sure you put that in.

  • Skew too negative

No one wants to read about all the things they can’t do — so talk about things your employees can do, too. Balance the positive with the negative and the serious with the not-so-serious.

DO:

  • Tell your employees that everything in the handbook is subject to change.

And with or without notice, at that. Your handbook will change as your company changes, so make sure your employees know that.

  • Make the most recent version available to all employees.

You should update your employee handbook as often as needed, but don’t forget to send the newest version out or put it on your company’s intranet.

  • State the handbook is not a binding contract —

especially if you ask your employees to sign it when they get it.

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