From design to the tone of your policies, these five tips will help you create an employee handbook your staff won’t forget.
Your new hire just arrived for their first day. You’ve greeted them at reception, offered them coffee, and seated them in a boardroom (the fancy one reserved for clients) to get the onboarding process started. What’s the first thing you give them?
If your answer was a copy of your employee handbook, then you’re in good company, as employee handbooks are one of the first documents most new staff are given.
That’s right, that means that your employee handbook is more often than not the first glimpse a new hire gets inside your company’s culture — and the only chance for you to make that coveted first impression, and show an employee whether you actually walk your walk when it comes to the incredible culture you likely discussed during the interview process.
Whether your handbook is a lengthy Word Document with top-to-bottom policy, or a colourful, visual and interactive extension of your brand — it speaks volumes to the type of company you are, and even, believe it or not, plays a part in job satisfaction and employee retention.
So, whether you’re starting your employee handbook from scratch, or updating it to reflect the modern professional landscape, below are five tips to help you create the best employee handbook possible.
Tip # 1: Tell a story.
Your company has a story. Tell it! Instead of introducing new employees to your company with 100 pages of straight legal policy, use the first 10-20 pages to captivate your reader and draw them into the things that make your company tick — the mission, the values, the history. The more employees can identify with and get behind something, the more invested they’ll be!
Tip # 2: Leverage your branding.
You’ve gone through the motions to create a beautiful brand for your website and social networks. Why stop there?! Gone are the days of a boring, plain document — an employee handbook is just another extension of your brand, which means it should include all the beautiful brand colours, photos, illustrations and icons you’ve so carefully created. Thinking of going the digital employee handbook route? You can even include videos, gifs, and external links!
Tip # 3: Keep your policies short, sweet and conversational.
Legal policies tend to be long, impersonal and focus heavily on punishment — but they don’t have to be! Whether making small changes (think: switching “management” to “we”), medium-size changes (think: condensing policies) or big changes (think: hiring a creative copywriter to take on your brand voice), the fact stands: the more casual, conversational and human the policies, the more likely employees are to read, understand and adhere to them.
Tip #4: Make your handbook accessible.
Creating a handbook takes time and resources — don’t waste them on something that will just collect cobwebs in a filing cabinet. Instead, make something accessible! Whether it’s a PDF or a digital employee handbook that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or mobile — the best employee handbooks are ones that can be accessed easily and frequently. With AirMason’s digital handbooks, it’s even possible to make your handbook accessible for different abilities through UserWay.
Tip #5: Create a tool employees can use.
Instead of only including policies, think about how you can create a tool that employees will reference again and again. Organize a brainstorm about the types of information new or current employees may need, and find a way to weave it into your handbook. Maybe it’s an extensive FAQ, or tips and tricks that are specific to your industry. A digital employee handbook even makes it possible to search within a document and immediately access specific information — especially helpful for employees who spend time working offsite or in the field.