Employee handbooks are a crucial tool for most, if not all businesses, when it comes to communicating important information to their team.
And yet, all too often they’re treated as a solely legal requirement and no thought or feeling goes into writing them. As a result, you’re left with long documents filled with legal jargon, business demands, lengthy policies and stiff procedures. No one wants to read your handbook because it’s damn right boring — and can you blame them?
In reality, your employee handbook has the power to be a fun, supportive, useful and engaging way to connect with team members, new and existing. It can set the tone for your company culture and act as a roadmap for all of your employees. Yes, you heard it right — it doesn’t have to be a big dusty old book that everyone pretends to read.
So, what are the benefits of having an amazing employee handbook?
One of the first reasons you’ll want to create an employee handbook is, of course, to cover your business from a legal perspective. A handbook should contain all the important policies and procedures so your new staff are clear on what is expected from them. However, aside from being a legal support, your employee handbook can be so much more than this. Discover the benefits below:
Share your mission and values with your employees, inspiring them to be the best employee they can be.
Let employees know what you expect from them and how you envisage them developing in their role. This reduces any disappointment and misunderstandings in the long run.
Use your handbook to shout about benefits and perks. The little things go a long way, so this is great to keep your employees engaged and reduce your turnover rates. Employees are more likely to stay when they feel valued and appreciated.
Take the opportunity to talk about your team. This is great for new starters as it helps them feel comfortable and at ease before they’ve even started.
Use the handbook as a chance to convey your company culture. If you’re fun-loving and light-hearted then crack a few jokes even!
How can you improve your employee handbook?
So, you’ve got your employee handbook together — now you’re worried that no one actually wants to read it. Fear not, we’ve got you covered. Below we’ll take you through our top tips to ensure your handbook is engaging and almost impossible to put down.
1) Brand your employee handbook up
Think of your employee handbook as though it were your very own website; a window into your business (particularly relevant if you are in fact hosting it online, for instance, with AirMason).. Brand and design it with your company colors, logos and fonts. Give it a jazzy front page, include images throughout, and make it pleasing to the eye.
Avoid writing up a plain text document and sending it out in black and white. You wouldn’t buy a magazine in the store which looked like this (and you definitely wouldn’t want to read it), so why would your employees want to trawl through it?
2) Make the most of visuals
As we mentioned above, images are an amazing way to make your employee handbook more engaging — but don’t forget about videos too! Did you know 48% of employees consider video to be the most engaging form of communication?
→ Use video to illustrate certain policies
There are some policies and procedures that are hard to explain or could just benefit from an a quick video with a breakdown. For example, your dress code may be quite specific. Why not make a short video showing employees what they can and can’t wear? It’s a great way to get casual — but important — information across in an engaging way.
→ Introduce your team
As the majority of companies use their employee handbooks to onboard their new staff, it’s a great place to introduce your new starter to your team. Get your team to introduce themselves and create a short video, your new hires will feel like they know everyone before day one.
→ Share your mission and values
Your employee handbook should be used to inspire your team, getting them on board with your company mission and values. A great way to ramp up the energy is to get one of your senior leaders to talk about your mission and values on video. They can really emphasize the importance of them and bring them to life, making your employees more likely to believe and feel what you are saying.
3) Structure your handbook content
Structure your content so it is easy to read and aesthetically pleasing. No one wants to read pages of long paragraphs, which can make it harder for your readers to digest what it is you’re trying to say. As a general rule of thumb, your paragraphs should never be longer than 6 lines.
→ Use more headers
They’re a great way to break up your text and allow for easy navigation of your handbook. If an employee needs to refer back to something they’ll know exactly where to look.
→ Use lists & bullet points
Numbered lists and bullet points are the perfect way to break down long paragraphs. They’re more digestible and your employees will be much more likely to remember what you have said rather than listing everything out in a sentence.
4) Go beyond the policies and procedures
We’ve already touched on this previously, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to talk about more than just policies and procedures. Below are a few examples of what other clients use their handbooks for:
✓ Company culture
✓ What it’s like to work here
✓ How we do things
|✓ Your philosophy
✓ Your vision
✓ Company timeline
✓ Employee testimonials
|✓ Your roadmap to success
✓ Company do’s and don’ts
✓ Phrases/quotes your team live by
5) Tell a story in your employee handbook
All too often, companies splurge a load of policies and procedures onto the page without thinking about how it will read for their employees.
Use your employee handbook to tell a story. Think carefully about how one section leads onto the next. For example, you may not want your bullying policy to sit next to your ‘meet the team’ page.
Think logically about what you want to say, where you want to start and where you want to end. Most handbooks will end up following a similar structure to the below:
- Introduction to the company
- Mission, values and culture
- Meet the team
- Benefits information
- General policies and procedures
- Procedures around leaving the business
- Thank you and welcome aboard message