Employee Handbooks Don’t Need to be Boring

Author: Kathryn Pizzuro

Employee Handbooks don’t need to be boring

A necessary communication tool for all organizations, whether big or small, the Employee Handbook doesn’t need to be the unopened dust collector on every employee’s shelf.  Typically the first document handed to new employees and the main method for communication of operational standards, the Handbook needs to reflect who you truly are as an organization and set the tone for the work-life culture.

Whether creating one from scratch or trying to breathe new life into the pages, here are a few tips for revamping your company’s Employee Handbook.

For the people, by the people

You may not have developed your handbook from within, but you should have a small group of employees review it.  Make sure you have tenured folks as well as the new kids on the block.  Each bring a valuable perspective to the process and can offer insight management may not have considered.

Be Visual

Ideally, enlist the help of your marketing or graphics department.  A little color and better typeface can vamp up any company document.  Photos are terrific, and if they can be of your actual employees, even better.  At the very least, your group will review the book to see if they or any of their coworkers are featured.

Reflect your Culture

Does your company have a lot of outdoorsy-types?  Pepper your handbook with tips on where to hike in the area.  Family-oriented?  Throw in a list of family events in your town or city – particularly if they are some that your company (or your client) sponsors.  Set the tone for your organization as playing a role in people’s lives, not just where they sit from 9 to 5.

Values, not Rules

No one likes rules.  Everyone appreciates values and they help explain a lot about who you are as an organization.  What do you believe in?  What is important?  Finding your current handbook rules don’t match up?  Just another reason for analyzing what your policies are and what they say about you.

Use Examples

Interview a few key employees from all levels of the organization.  Ask for stories they are willing to share on how decisions were made or when conflict arose and how they handled it.  History is valuable and sharing that with all employees shares also the knowledge gained from past mistakes and or successes.

Be Brief

You want the book to be read, right?  Be simple.  Be conversational.  Be straight-forward.  If the reference you use to explain your policies is difficult to understand, how complicated are your policies?

In the end, your Employee Handbook is all about communication and providing a resource for your valued employees.  Take the time and make sure it reflects what you truly want to say.  And remember, sometimes how you say it, makes all the difference.

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