Building a Better Employee Handbook

Employee handbooks are generally one of the first documents a new hire will receive. Whether it is delivered electronically prior to their start date or printed and hand delivered in their orientation packet, employee handbooks are very powerful pieces of documentation.  In many cases, the employee handbook is one of the only documents employees are actually required to read.


These handbooks, however, don’t have to be boring or dry. The goal of a good handbook should be to clearly outline company operations, introduce company culture, set the standard for morale, and drive home the company’s vision and values. This document is a great place to showcase your unique brand and provide employees all the information they need at-a-glance.


Here are our strategies for building and maintaining a better employee handbook.


Give it a new name. There’s no rule that says your employee handbook has to be called “handbook” or “employee guide.” Instead, give it a fresh name—something employees will be interested in reviewing and portray your company vision and culture in the best light.


Document design matters. Pay special attention to how your handbook is designed. From content organization to templates that assist in getting specific ideas across vs. hindering the reader’s understanding, it is important to ensure your handbook is thoughtfully designed to be user-friendly and easily referenceable. Trello and Valve are great examples.


Really tell the company story. Don’t sell yourself, or your company short. People really are interested in the story of how businesses came to be. Feel free to elaborate and make this a whole section about the when, where, why, and how. Who was involved? What indicated a need for this solution in the current climate? Details like these will resonate with employees and help drive the vision and values message home.


Review regularly and update as needed. Laws, both state and federal, change frequently. Some of these changes require updates to be made to the handbook or other business-related documentation. Ensure the references or regulations outlined in the handbook are not only kept current but are also still pertinent to the direction of the company’s vision and values.


Single source of truth. The employee handbook, or any documentation or reference materials that an employee may need, should be kept in one location. That location, potentially an intranet site or Google Drive, should house only the current version. To help maintain proper versioning of documents, create a version reference number or sequence for each document. This is helpful when referencing an updated document or specific page in a series.


Employee handbooks are not one-size-fits-all—and they shouldn’t be. Consider your handbook to be an extension of the company’s culture, both past and present, and as a way to engage with employees. Take a general approach with conversational content to address overarching ideas that convey the company’s direction and corporate vision.


Contact us today to start taking a second look at your current employee handbook. Let Insured Solutions help in making your employee handbook something employees actually want to read.

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