Your employees are the backbone of your business. So it's important to make sure they have the resources they need to fulfill their duties. The best way to do that is by creating an employee handbook. This manual is a valuable piece of communication that serves both the employee and the employer's best interests.

What Is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is a manual given to staff by their employers. It contains company policies, procedures and job-related information pertaining to both the business and the role of an individual. It acts as a comprehensive guide, detailing what an employee can expect as far as working conditions, what is expected of them as an employee of the company, and what procedures and policies the business adheres to. These handbooks include everything from instructions on how employees can access certain files or information, to what the company's policies are on promotions.

Employee handbooks are a staple in business operations, particularly for hiring and onboarding a new staff member. Besides key information an individual needs when joining a company, the handbook also contains useful and relevant guidance that both employers and employees can reference as needed.

What Is the Purpose of an Employee Handbook?

If you're tasked with creating an employee handbook for your company, it's important to keep in mind the purpose it will serve. Gaining a clear understanding of the handbook's purpose allows you to write one that covers all necessary and essential elements. The goal of any staff handbook is to provide employees upon being hired with a go-to guide and resource for all information about the company they may need to know. It is a place for employers to define and establish expectations. The handbook outlines boundaries and sets restrictions on all employee and company operations.

The purpose of creating an employee handbook is to ensure that all employees within the company operate on the same page. When you hire a new employee, it's important for them to have clearly defined expectations regarding their roles and the working conditions they will be in. Establishing clear policies ensures the company holds every employee to the same standard.

Further, the purpose of employee handbooks is to offer the organization a roadmap. It's essentially a company compass, informing staff on how to approach certain operations and ensure they conduct duties both legally and ethically.

It's also important to note that creating an employee handbook can help protect employers in legal disputes. If a current or previous employee files harassment or wrongful termination claims, it's crucial that an employer can point to an official handbook that proves company compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

Employee handbooks are helpful for both employers and employees. If it is well written, an employee should have little or no question about what is expected of them. Everyone will understand the company policies and how employers address or enforce any rules and issues. They will understand how the company addresses issues and handles complaints. They also detail the benefits of the company and compensation policies. It can even act as a reference book for employees to refer to when needed while on the job.

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Do I Really Need One?

There's a chance that when your company first started, there was no handbook. But as you grow, it becomes more necessary. A company without an employee handbook communicates a lack of organization and cohesiveness. It can make you look unprofessional.

Also, by failing to create an employee handbook, you leave the company more vulnerable to disputes and claims filed by employees. When you have a handbook, you have one point of reference that embodies everything that the company is about, what it values, and what it doesn't. It sets a clear message and standard for the entire organization to follow, which holds people and the company itself accountable.

What Is the Purpose of an Employee Handbook?

If you're tasked with creating an employee handbook for your company, it's important to keep in mind the purpose it will serve. Gaining a clear understanding of the handbook's purpose allows you to write one that covers all necessary and essential elements. The goal of any staff handbook is to provide employees upon being hired with a go-to guide and resource for all information about the company they may need to know. It is a place for employers to define and establish expectations. The handbook outlines boundaries and sets restrictions on all employee and company operations.

The purpose of creating an employee handbook is to ensure that all employees within the company operate on the same page. When you hire a new employee, it's important for them to have clearly defined expectations regarding their roles and the working conditions they will be in. Establishing clear policies ensures the company holds every employee to the same standard.

Further, the purpose of employee handbooks is to offer the organization a roadmap. It's essentially a company compass, informing staff on how to approach certain operations and ensure they conduct duties both legally and ethically.

It's also important to note that creating an employee handbook can help protect employers in legal disputes. If a current or previous employee files harassment or wrongful termination claims, it's crucial that an employer can point to an official handbook that proves company compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

Employee handbooks are helpful for both employers and employees. If it is well written, an employee should have little or no question about what is expected of them. Everyone will understand the company policies and how employers address or enforce any rules and issues. They will understand how the company addresses issues and handles complaints. They also detail the benefits of the company and compensation policies. It can even act as a reference book for employees to refer to when needed while on the job.

Tips for Preparing an Effective Employee Handbook

When creating an employee handbook, there is a lot to consider. You need to factor in laws and regulations, and specific details and preferences unique to your company. Keep in mind all the different reasons an employee might need to access a handbook. What information are they trying to find? Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Figuring out who to go to with questions or concerns
  • Learning what their general responsibilities and duties are
  • Verifying safety information and regulations
  • Educating themselves on company policies and best practices
  • Understanding what benefits are available and which they are eligible for

When you are getting ready to prepare your employee handbook, keep in mind you want to be consistent and clear. Don't tailor the manual to certain positions or situations. Make it the uniform standard for all individuals in the organization to adhere to.

It's also important to note that while much of the information may be dense and filled with required legal speak, it doesn't have to be boring. Your employee handbook is a great place for you to showcase some key attributes of the company and the benefits of working there. It should highlight what the company does, what sets them apart from competitors, and what makes them unique.

Before creating the employee handbook, consider a list of materials and topics you will need to compile and cover, such as:


  • A welcome letter from the CEO
  • Company background and history
  • Company mission, vision, and values
  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Non-compete and non-disclosure agreements
  • Employee confidentiality agreements
  • Employee benefits, PTO, and compensation
  • Nonexempt and exempt employment statuses
  • Use of company property

Also, be mindful of the language you use when writing the handbook. It should be easy to read and understand by all parties. Use language representative of the voice of your company and brand. The verbiage should leave no room for interpretation.

A Checklist for Creating an Employee Handbook

Checklist for Creating an Employee Handbook

Image via Pixabay

Once you're able to understand exactly all how having a handbook will help you, your employees, and the business, it's time to get started on creating an employee handbook.

As you can see, there's a lot of information to include in an employee handbook. It can be difficult and overwhelming deciding where to start. But it's important that you do. The best way to go about it is to take it one step at a time.

Every business is different, and you may find as you go that there are certain things you want to change, remove, or add. That's okay. But you need to start somewhere. Below are some things you will want to include.

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Company History, Mission and Values

What makes your company unique? What do you want potential and current hires to know about the company, its history, and its values? When creating an employee handbook, it's important to keep in mind that this will be a new hire's introduction to the company. It will act as a guide, telling them about the corporate culture and how they will fit in. It gives them a sense of belonging, so the way you word it should be thoughtful and reflective of the brand.

This section of the handbook should give employees a solid background on how the company started and how it got to where it is today. It should also define and outline what the overall mission of the company is and what the main business objectives are. Besides what they are, also include how you plan on getting there. Be clear about what the organization values the most, whether it be hard work, flexibility, communication, creativity, or something else.

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Employment Benefits, Policies, and Information

In creating an employee handbook, it's important to include general employment information about the hiring and employment processes. What are your hiring practices? What should a new hire expect during the onboarding process? Are there any necessary training courses to complete?

It shouldn't be a surprise that the benefits section of employee handbooks are often the most read and referenced. While you may not go into super specific details, it's important to give employees a comprehensive understanding of the benefits offered by your company, eligibility terms, and enrollment periods.

What health insurance plans are offered? How long does one need to be employed for eligibility? What types of coverage are included in the plan? Do you offer retirement savings?

In this section, also address information about compensation and paid time off (PTO). Are sick days and vacation time accrued? What is the process for requesting time off? How often are employees paid and what payment methods are available? Is overtime permitted?

Be sure to mention any “soft” or fringe benefits you offer, like gym memberships, training programs, tuition reimbursement, or flex scheduling. These perks are important to most employees, so making the information clear and accessible is helpful.

It's important to note that with creating an employee handbook, pay careful mind to any federal, state, and local laws. This is particularly important with compensation and labor laws. For anything pertaining to payment or compensation, make sure you write your employee handbook paying careful attention to federal, state and local laws.

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Employee Performance and Review

To perform their jobs successfully, it's important that employees know how the company measures their performance. Include a section that explains what the employee performance review is like. How often do they typically occur? What is the promotion process like?

Include a section on how your company handles resignation and termination procedures. If an employee is looking to resign, your handbook should tell them the preferred method for going about it.

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Standards of Conduct

When you're creating an employee handbook, you are offering insight not only about how the company functions and operates but also how employees should. Addressing behavioral expectations while on the job allows employees to understand the company culture at play and how they should act at work.

This section should cover what the dress code is, and policies on topics like using social media and personal technology while at work. What are the company's drug and alcohol use policies? Are employees required to sign a document consenting to a drug screening?

Here is a good place to include information about how the company handles conflict resolution. You should list federal, state, and local laws regarding anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws and equal employment opportunities.

Final Tips for Employee Handbooks

Now you have your employee handbook outlined, it's good to get some input from other executives in the company. They may offer insight or perspectives on areas you overlooked. It's also important to make sure it complies with all federal, state, and local laws.

Keep in mind you can always go back and change the handbook as needed. And while it serves as somewhat of a “rule book,” it can also be used as an appealing onboarding tool. When creating an employee handbook, write it in a way that makes you confident and excited to share it with people, both in and outside the organization.

Ultimately, your handbook should reflect a company with ethical values and high standards. It should showcase your company in a favorable light by pointing out you have set rules and processes for doing things.

Featured Image via Pixabay