An employee handbook is an important element in HR and employee relations.
The process of creating an effective employee handbook can be tedious and time-consuming, but if it's done right it can save time and hassle when it comes to orienting new employees and managing existing ones.
Deciding what to include in the employee manual is usually the primary consideration for employers. Clearly, content is king in a well-crafted handbook. Yet the table of contents shouldn't be your only consideration. The road to an effective employee handbook is fraught with pitfalls and potholes, and there are plenty of other things screaming for your attention.
- Design. Deciding what your handbook will look like can be just as important as what it contains. It should be attractive and eye-catching, but it should also be easy to navigate and include tables, charts and artwork/photographs where appropriate. If you want it to be read, focus on breaking up the text with informative design features.
- Tone. There's a temptation for employers to create handbooks that read like pieces of legislation. But guess what? Employees don't read boring legal jargon. Instead, they're more inclined to inform themselves about company policies if the tone is clear, concise and casual.
- Authorship. It's probably a stretch to associate the word "author" with an employee handbook. Nonetheless, someone is going to have to do the hard work of translating your policies and procedures into compelling text. If you're not up to the challenge yourself, offload it to a key staff member or outsource it to a professional copywriter.
- Format. These days, you're crazy not to create an electronic version of your employee handbook along with the hard copies you will hand out to your employees. Electronic versions and PDFs can be easily distributed both inside and outside your company.
- Distribution. Obviously you will distribute your handbook to new employees and probably require them to sign an acknowledgment form. But what about your existing workforce? Have a distribution plan in place before you begin the writing process.
- Legal review. A lot of employers fail to submit their handbook to legal review. Even though you aren't legally required to create a handbook, its contents can come under fire in court. Ask your attorney to review your handbook before it makes its way into the hands of your employees.