Employee handbooks serve as essential guides that outline company policies, expectations, and rights, ensuring clarity and consistency within the workplace. This article not only defines what an employee handbook is but also provides a step-by-step guide on creating one tailored to your business’s needs.
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An employee’s first day at a new job can be an overwhelming experience–not just for the new hire but for managers, too.
To ensure the process goes smoothly and to help employees settle into their new roles, it’s crucial to have standard policies and procedures in place.
One of the most important documents to welcome new staff to your team is an employee handbook. This is an important manual that clearly outlines the company culture, mission, expectations, and rules to help new workers get oriented.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook is a document that human resource departments provide to new employees. The document details the company’s policies, procedures, and expectations, and often includes information on topics such as work hours, benefits, disciplinary procedures, and safety guidelines.
This handbook serves as a reference guide for employees and can help clarify the terms and conditions of employment, create a positive company culture, and ensure consistency and transparency throughout the business.
The Importance of an Employee Handbook
Here are some of the most important reasons to have an employee handbook for your business:
- Employee onboarding: Helps new employees get acquainted with company culture, values, and expectations.
- Clear communication: Provides a centralized source of information, ensuring that all employees understand company policies, procedures, and expectations.
- Legal protection: A well-drafted handbook can serve as a line of defense against employee claims, such as wrongful termination or discrimination.
- Consistency: Ensures that policies are consistently applied to all employees, reducing the potential for misunderstandings.
- Setting expectations: Clearly outlines what is expected of employees in terms of behavior, performance, and responsibilities.
- Establishes boundaries: An employee handbook defines the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, reducing misconduct and creating a positive work environment.
As company policies evolve, make sure to update your employee handbook accordingly. Then, store it in an online Knowledge Base so it’s always accessible to your team.
What to Include in Your Employee Handbook
Below, we’ve outlined the most important sections to include in your employee handbook.
You can also get your own employee handbook template below to make the process even easier:
Introduction and welcome statement
Let new employees know that you’re happy they’re part of the team. Explain your company purpose, history, and mission statement. This section should be welcoming and make employees feel a part of the team.
A hierarchy chart
A hierarchy chart maps out who’s who in the company. Including pictures is also a good idea to put a face to the name and help new hires learn who’s who faster.
Employment contract types
Define the requirements of full-time and part-time employees, interns, apprentices, seasonal staff, and other types of staff that your company employs.
Equal opportunity employment statement
Reiterates the company’s commitment to fairness and non-discrimination, ensuring that all employees are treated equitably.
📚 You may also be interested in our ultimate guide to creating employee handbooks for small businesses.
Below are some key workplace policies to include in your employment handbook. If you have specific policies for remote or field workers, be sure to include them:
- Equal employment opportunity
- Bereavement leave
- Health and safety
- Meal and rest breaks
- Drug and alcohol
- Payroll and overtime
- Working hours, PTO, and vacation time
- Sick leave
- Anti-harassment, including sexual harassment
- Jury duty
- Parental leave
- Termination and resignation
- Performation reviews and promotions
- Company vehicles
- Cyber security
Code of conduct
The code of conduct section is where you should cover how employees are expected to behave in the workplace.
This is where you should cover subjects including:
- Dress code
- Social media, including the policy on posting about work on social platforms
- Conflict of interest
- Employee relationships and fraternization
- Employment of relatives
- Workplace visitors
- Solicitation and distribution
Benefits and perks
This section provides an overview of general employee benefits and compensation packages for all employees. Keep in mind that employees may have different benefits packages, but this section provides a general overview of what’s generally available to everyone.
This may include:
Describe your health insurance policy and an overview of how it works. Include the contact information of the relevant insurance agent or manager who can provide specific policy information.
Outline the process for reporting employee injuries and your compensation package.
List what work-related expenses the company covers and the process to claim reimbursement.
Such as 401(k) plans in the US, pension plans, or other retirement savings programs, often with employer-matching contributions.
You should have clear guidelines in place regarding any company-issued equipment, like computers or iPads. Describe what to do if the equipment is lost, damaged, or stolen and how to properly maintain it.
Describe any wellness benefits you offer, such as gym memberships or mental health services.
Employee compensation and ongoing development
The employee compensation and development section of your employee handbook should detail the company’s policies on salary structures, payroll, benefits, performance management and reviews, bonuses, raises, and opportunities for professional growth and training.
You should also explain how to use the employee time clock and when employees can expect to be paid every month.
🧠 Did You Know?
With Connecteam, you can create customized professional development and ongoing training courses directly in the app. That way, employees can complete them while on the go from their mobile devices, and at their own pace.
Employee exit policy
The exit policy section of the employee manual explains how employees should terminate their own employment. You should also specify applicable laws and the company’s internal process when terminating employees. List the conditions of severance pay and how you will compensate for any remaining vacation and sick leave.
If your business conducts exit interviews, mention that here. Explain the reasoning behind them and the process.
Employee Handbook Tips and Best Practices
Make sure to follow these tips and best practices when creating a handbook for employees:
- Use simple language: The content should be easy for all employees to understand.
- Incorporate visuals: Images, logos, and charts can make the handbook more engaging and easier to read.
- Update regularly: As your company evolves, policies change. Make sure to keep your handbook relevant by updating it accordingly.
- Keep it accessible: Employees should have easy access to the handbook. Keep it stored in a digital knowledge base so they can always find it.
- Provide resources: Include contact information for HR or relevant departments for employees to reach out with questions or concerns.
- Seek legal review: Before finalizing the handbook, have an employment attorney review it to ensure that it’s compliant with employment law.
- Make it part of onboarding: Distribute the employee handbook during the onboarding process to help acclimate employees and welcome them to the team.
- Have employees sign a form after they’ve read it: This ensures that your staff has acknowledged and understood the company’s policies and expectations. It provides a record of their agreement and reduces potential liabilities or misunderstandings in the future.
The Employee Handbook: More Than Just a Policy
While creating an employee handbook for your business may not be the most exciting task, it is incredibly important: a comprehensive employee handbook communicates company policies and expectations, ensuring consistency and transparency between employers and employees.
All employees should receive the employee handbook on their first day of work and be able to access it and review it at any time. You should also be able to update the handbook as policies change.
The easiest and most efficient way to do this is with an employee management app, like Connecteam, that includes communication tools to disperse your handbook and a knowledge base to store it. Connecteam also includes onboarding and training tools, an employee time clock and scheduler, and HR tools to completely manage your team on the go.