Whether your employee handbook is a haphazard pamphlet or has more pages than your old high school Algebra textbook, updating it can be a daunting task.
Not only do you need to make sure all of your company policies in your employee handbook are current, but you also don’t want to overwhelm new hires with an abundance of legalese to read.
Simply put, finding the perfect middle ground that ensures your employee handbook is informative and engaging is a constant struggle for HR professionals around the world.
If you’ve been tasked with updating your company’s handbook, the tips and strategies below are made for you. Along with revising your culture guide, you may also want to consider adding one of these sections if they aren’t already included.
Dedicate the Time
One of the biggest hurdles facing those tasked with reimagining the company handbook is time. It’s often difficult to find time to focus on the task at hand throughout the day. Interruptions can make reviewing and editing a timely process.
On top of reviewing and editing, crafting new content and bringing it all together in a beautifully designed document can be equally challenging. One way to cut down on the time it takes to accomplish these tasks is to use a platform like AirMason.
With AirMason, you can quickly make changes to your employee handbook online with the built-in editor. Also, allowing employees to access the manual via any device through a mobile-responsive website helps cut down on tricky distribution challenges and the time which comes along with them.
Here are a few other strategies that may help you carve out time to work on the employee handbook:
✓ Block out time in your calendar to work on updates
✓ Dedicate the first hour or last hour of your day to working on the handbook
✓ Schedule group meetings with others to help with some of the updates that need to be done
✓ Whenever you’re working on the employee handbook, snooze your notifications – head down, no distractions!
Break the Employee Handbook Down into Manageable Sections
One technique that works well is to break the project down into manageable sections. Let’s face it, even the most dedicated HR professionals can get burned out after reading, editing, and updating 50+ pages of company policies. To help keep the motivation from waning, try grouping sections of the employee handbook together and setting yourself more achievable pieces to complete
For instance, setting aside time to work through the core values and mission statement before moving on to other areas like vacation and workplace policies can help make the process more manageable.
Let’s look at a few ways to approach popular sections of the employee handbook, such as:
Core Values & Mission Statement
Compensation & Benefits
→ Core Values & Mission Statement
The core values and mission statements are not only an essential part of your employee handbook but drive the culture of your organization. They should show up very early in the handbook and set the tone for all the content that follows.
Most importantly, evidence them through the tone of your handbook! The tone you use to write your handbook should reflect these values and your brand’s voice – not the legal team’s.
→ Vacation Policies
If there is one part of the employee handbook that will get its fair share of attention, it’s the section featuring the vacation policies. While we’re sure they’re excited to get to work, it’s natural for new starters to want to know how much PTO they’re going to be entitled to when starting a new job, along with how that will accrue over time.
Having examples, visuals, and conversational tone in this section will make it easier for new team members to understand how vacation time works.
→ Salary & Benefits
Along with the vacation policies, the pieces relating to salary and benefits are another area employees will reference heavily. Since most benefit programs tend to use complex phrasing and words related to insurance or medical coverage, there are opportunities to make these more employee-friendly and create a better experience for all.
Many people find success in providing a visual or brief outline of each benefit, followed by a link to a document with more details – i.e. the “legalese”. This will allow the reader to get a basic understanding of the benefit, get them excited for the amazing ways your company looks after them, and then provide them with a reference point for additional information if and when they need it.
→ Workplace Policies
While workplace policies are arguably some of the most important sections to read through in the employee handbook, if they’re not made engaging in the least, many people will just skim over them. To get better engagement with areas such as equal opportunity, anti-harassment or diversity & inclusion, try using one or multiple of the following techniques:
✓ Add visuals (photos, videos, infographics) – make them inclusive and representative of your own team. Better yet, use actual photos of the team itself!
✓ Use concise language and short sentences – make these policies about the purpose and meaning behind the policies, not the legality of having them in place.
✓ Keep paragraphs small while using bullet points to make key statements stand out.
Ask Others for Help
Taking on the project of updating the employee handbook all by yourself can make doing so all the less achievable. Not only does it put a lot of pressure on your shoulders, but it could also mean you miss out on an opportunity to include others who have valuable insight to offer.
Send out an email to others in your organization who may be able to help develop the content, whether that is through pictures, videos, testimonials, or actually writing some of the sections. This can be a huge morale booster, plus makes everyone feel like their thoughts are being heard and reassures them of the essential part they play in setting the company culture.
Allow Your Employee Handbook to Speak for Your Company
Many people assume that an employee handbook is a place where company policies and guidelines live, period. A lengthy, yet dull document for teammates to dig out when they have questions about vacation time or benefits. However, it is much more than that.
The employee handbook is one of the first places new team members will be exposed to their new work culture. Everything from the writing style to the visuals that are used sends a message about the culture. It’s your first opportunity to excite, engage and onboard your new superstars – so treat it as the key tool for HR professionals that it really is.
If your current handbook doesn’t express your company culture, maybe try including one of the tips below:
Add pictures of your staff having fun – at work, company socials, conferences and events
Include testimonials from current and former employees
Use conversational language throughout the handbook to give it a more personal feel
Don’t be afraid to use humor where appropriate – make your new hires feel at ease!
Have fun with it! Hide a secret word in the handbook that when found earns the new employee a prize; throw in some trivia questions about your business to break up some of the heavier sections. This handbook is about your business – what do you want to say?
Create a Unique Employee Handbook With the Help of AirMason
Regardless of whether you are changing one section or overhauling your handbook completely, getting started is often the hardest part.