As soon as you hire your first employee, the employee handbook becomes one of the most important tools of your business. It acts as both a resource for your staff in learning company policies and procedures as well as legal protection for you as an employer with obligations and responsibilities to your employees. Compiling one, and then keeping it updated, should be high on the priority list.
Once you have all the information you need to include, putting it together is actually the part that takes the most finesse because it needs to be written in such a way that gets the message across without putting your audience to sleep (or even worse, doesn’t get read at all). Here’s some tips:
Writing an engaging handbook
- Feel free to write in an engaging manner. Professional doesn’t have to be boring so while you don’t want to pepper the text with trendy slang, do consider a more conversational tone.
- Consider design! What does that mean? Use white space to your advantage. Look into how things like sentence length, paragraph spacing, and the use of images helps break up the text so that it is easier to read.
- Make that table of contents mean something! Entire blogs have been written about this topic alone. Make sure the table of contents is correct. Don’t bury one topic in another.
- Liberally place contact information throughout the document. Having a department head’s email and/or phone number included will help your staff direct their questions to the right person the first time.
A good employee handbook is a living document supporting a dynamic business and as such, changes to the text will likely be a regular occurrence. There’s a few ways to do this efficiently, and it’ll pay off to follow them. Let’s discuss.
How to effectively make changes to a handbook
- Notify employees prior to making changes. This isn’t always required, unless advance notice has been stipulated as policy or a union must be kept in the loop, but it makes for very good practice even if not required as it helps to build trust with staff. Invaluable.
- Make sure changes are legal. It may appear obvious but there have been many examples of employers (whether knowingly or not) implementing new policy changes without first making sure they follow legal guidelines. Do your homework!
- Get all departments on board prior to roll-out. Make sure HR, accounting, etc. have been prepped of upcoming changes and are prepared to support them on day one. Changes to policies will go much smoother is everyone is ready for them.
Utilizing these tips will get you a handbook that you’ll be proud to present to new employees and most importantly, a resource that will be utilized throughout their time at your company! One last tip, if you think of the handbook as a product of the marketing department, it could help motivate you to make the extra effort in designing a great one.
Still feeling overwhelmed? Eos HR can take the project off your hands! We’re a team of HR professionals helping small businesses efficiently provide essential materials to employees so management can focus on other priorities. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.