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The Marketing Technologist

Why and How to Make a Company Handbook

By Melissa Christian on January 25, 2018 |

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how to make a company handbookA handbook is an essential resource for companies of every industry and size.

A guide for your employees, a handbook gives your team a clear picture of how they should conduct themselves while representing your company, as well as what they can expect from you as their employer.

Benefits, rules, processes, culture, and values are all items that the employee is expected to understand. In order to have a clearly defined set of standards, the non-negotiables of your business should be documented in a way that your employees can easily absorb and turn to when they have questions.

Let's take a look at why and how to make a company handbook.

Why to make a Company Handbook

Setting the tone for both the employer and the employee, a handbook should showcase how to function while at the office and representing the company off-site. The following are a few of the most crucial reasons a handbook is such an important part of any business.

Showcase History & Culture: Your company has a lot of history and a well-established culture. A new employee should have a way to educate themselves on how your company came to be and what your values are.  While some of this can be learned over time, having a written history and documented values will ensure that your new employees are up to speed and that your seasoned team members are maintaining and demonstrating company culture.

Keeping Compliant: Having all of the legal compliancies laid out in writing will save your HR team from issues stemming from gray areas and blurred lines. There are a lot of rules your company plays by to stay compliant with the government and a lot of rights that your employees possess.  Easy access to this information is critical to staying in a legal safe space.   Anti-discrimination, OSHA, and leave policies are all items that should be included in your handbook.

Set Expectations: A company handbook is the perfect way to communicate with your team how they should look, speak, and conduct themselves. A handbook is the perfect place to state how your team should dress, when they should be at work, how they should speak to one another and clients, etc. By providing a written guide for employee conduct, you eliminate the possibility of someone breaking the rules because they "didn't know any better". If there is a question on conduct, your handbook can be referenced and used as a tool for solving disputes.

Boast About Benefits: Sure, there are rules to play by, but your company also offers a lot of benefits and perks to it's team members.  Be sure to include in your handbook all the things that make working for your company a pleasure.  

The sections are piling up, sounds like a lot of work, right? What are the next steps to actually developing content for your company handbook?

how to make a company handbook

How to Develop a Company Handbook

This all seems like a lot of information to relay.  How can you be sure you get it right? You may want to start by:

Writing an Outline: Time for a brain dump! Start with everything you want and need your employees to know. Then, list out all of the compliance items you know you'll need to include. If you have questions on what legal items to include, the US Dept. of Labor is a great place to start.

Involve Several Team Members: There may be just one or two people in charge of writing the content of your handbook, but there should be several people involved in the review. Have new and seasoned employees read through the content and give their feedback. You handbook should be the voice of your company, not just one person.

Enlist Legal Counsel: It's a good idea to have an employment lawyer look over your handbook to confirm there aren't any holes or discrepancies. Making sure your language and policies leave no room for interpretation will safeguard your company from potential lawsuits.

Company Handbook PRO TIPS

From someone who's been there, here are a few boxes to check to make your handbook a success.

  • Have a signature page where employees acknowledge that they received a copy and file that page away in their employee file.
  • Make amendments as soon as policies change and immediately alert your team
  • Steer clear of industry jargon & legal speak - keep it simple and easy to digest.
  • Cover your digital bases.  If you have a work from home policy or digital agency, you MUST set up standards and rules for working remotely to avoid company time being used inappropriately.
  • Give your handbook a great title, while "{Your Company Name} Handbook" is to the point, it's not exactly engaging or exciting.
  • Make it attractive and enjoyable to read.  Use a designer to help make your handbook reflect who your company is visually.  Add in any custom photography or company artwork. Don't have a designer or photographer handy? Use these content creation tools to help you out.
  • Make it mobile by offering an online version in addition to a physical copy.  

With all this in your pocket you should be well on your way to producing a well-written, perfectly compliant company handbook.  

Please share your experience with how your company produced their handbook and how it's evolved over time!

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