Everything You Need to Know About Employee Handbooks

Startup & Start Over

by Judith Lindenberger

How do you write an employee handbook for your small business? What do you need to put in it? Whether you're writing your first employee manual or you're updating one you've had for a while, this article explains the topics you should cover.

handbookEmployee handbooks should be designed to do more than just communicate information and answer routine questions; your handbook should help you achieve your organizational goals and objectives.

Thus, while a list of rules of conduct and a summary of benefits are important information, you should evaluate your handbook on its ability to help your organization meet its objectives.

One purpose of your employee handbook is to help you attract and retain employees. Your employee handbook should help your employees answer — hopefully in the affirmative — two important questions: “Why should I work here?” and “Why should I continue working here?” If your employees are not receiving a positive message about your organization, your handbook is not doing its job.

Your handbook should also help convey useful information about hours of work, paydays, leaves of absence, and benefits. More importantly, your handbook should help create an atmosphere of trust and respect and give your employees a sense of belonging.

At the same time, your employee handbook must help you comply with your legal obligations and ethical requirements. It must also help you protect management’s right to make changes and adapt the organization’s policies and programs as needed.

Since your organization and its employees are affected by all of your written and unwritten policies and procedures, you should ensure that your employee handbook incorporates as many of your organization’s written and unwritten policies and procedures as practical. You must further ensure that your handbook communicates top management’s commitment to your policies. As a result, your handbook will promote consistency and assist you in preventing claims of disparate treatment.

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