Should your Company Share your Employee Handbook Publicly?

Some employers handbooks are available publicly, (i.e. shared online), while others are circulated internally only, and closely guarded. Why is this?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, public employee handbooks serve as the backbone of organizational success and employee engagement. Their importance cannot be overstated, as they act as a compass for both employees and employers, guiding them through the intricate labyrinth of workplace policies, legal requirements, and benefits. Are you ready to discover the ins and outs of creating an effective public employee handbook that fosters a thriving work environment? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Public employee handbooks provide transparency and accountability while helping organizations comply with legal requirements.
  • Employee handbooks should include government policies, rights & responsibilities, benefits & compensation to foster engagement and retention.
  • Best practices for creating a public employee handbook involve inclusive language, regular updates, stakeholder collaboration & EEO compliance.

The Importance of Public Employee Handbooks

A meticulously designed employee handbook is the linchpin of any government organization, functioning as a communication medium that guarantees transparency, accountability, and adherence to legal requirements. It sets the foundation for a healthy company’s culture, outlining the company policy, code of conduct, workplace policies, and employee benefits, which are essential for attracting and retaining top talent.

Additionally, it serves as a valuable resource for new hires, facilitating their adaptation to their new roles and responsibilities seamlessly.

Transparency and Accountability

When it comes to government organizations, transparency and accountability are of utmost importance. Public employee handbooks can help achieve these goals by:

  • Establishing trust
  • Ensuring fairness
  • Promoting ethical conduct
  • Improving communication
  • Reducing legal risks

By integrating explicit conflict-of-interest policies and nurturing open communication, employee handbooks can successfully enhance transparency and accountability in the workplace.

Moreover, employees employee handbooks serve as a vital resource for employees to understand their rights and responsibilities, ensuring that they remain informed and aware of the organization’s policies and procedures. This not only helps create a fair and equitable work environment, but also aids in maintaining compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Legal Compliance

Compliance with legal requirements is paramount for any organization, especially in the public sector. Employee handbooks play a significant role in helping new employees understand their rights, responsibilities, and the legal landscape within which they operate. Providing definitive guidelines on employee rights, workplace policies, and confidentiality clauses equips employee handbooks to safeguard organizations’ legal compliance and protect crucial company property.

In addition to safeguarding the organization, legal compliance within employee handbooks also plays a key role in fostering a healthy work environment. Setting clear expectations and policies about employee behavior enables handbooks to foster a culture characterized by professionalism, respect, and accountability.

Employee Engagement and Retention

Employee engagement and retention are vital for any organization’s success. A well-crafted employee handbook acts as a roadmap for employees, providing them with the tools and information they need to navigate their workplace and excel in their roles. Detailing the organization’s core values, expectations, and benefits empowers handbooks to substantially boost employee engagement and retention.

Moreover, an effective employee handbook serves as an essential tool during the onboarding process. It helps new employees understand the organization’s culture, policies, and procedures, setting clear expectations and fostering a sense of belonging. Incorporating detailed policies for offboarding procedures allows handbooks to further guarantee fair and considerate treatment of employees, ultimately enhancing employee engagement and retention.

Much of the information covered in your employee handbook is consistent across many organizations. However, some organizations keep this manual private to ensure competitors cannot access internal policies or proprietary information, as well to avoid possible legal issues. Although some perceive there to be risks with keeping this manual private, there are many benefits to sharing this manual publicly too. Consider the benefits listed below when deciding whether or not to safeguard this manual:

Pros of Sharing your Employee Handbook Publicly

  • New hires may google your handbook online before they join your organization. This is when they re most excited and likely have the time and capacity to go through this manual in detail. Provide your new hires with the information they need to prepare and

Are you wondering about the legality of your employee handbook? New hires may google your handbook online before they join your organization. This is when they re most excited and likely have the time and capacity to go through this manual in detail. Provide your new hires with the information they need to prepare and get excited for their new roles by offering this manual publicly.

  • Candidates are interviewing your organization as much as you are interviewing them for fit. If candidates can access your handbook during the interview process, they may be able to decide for themselves whether they re a fit. Learn why small businesses need an employee handbook.

and ultimately save your organization time and money by avoiding hires that are not a good fit with your policies and culture.


  • If honesty and transparency are core values of your organization, consider posting your employee handbook online. New hires and prospective candidates alike may get skeptical if your organization prides themselves on transparency, yet keeps this manual private. They may wonder what exactly you are trying to hide, which may leave them feeling discouraged.
  • Sharing your employee handbook with new hires before their start dates avoids confusion. A new hire may think they have a good understanding of the company s policies. Find out what does an employee handbook say about a company?


from the interview process. However, there maybe certain details that have not been relayed that could affect his/her decision to join the organization. For example; A new hire may get told that a company has a 3 week vacation policy. However, he/she may not be aware that paid vacation only applies after 1 full year of employment. Information like this is important to shall in full at the start to ensure fit and to avoid confusion, employee frustration and negative feelings down the road.

Whatever side of the fence you sit on, a new hire that accepts a job without knowing all the terms is risky for both the employer and new hire. If you choose to keep your employee handbook private, consider developing a policy where this manual is shared with candidates before they accept your offer. AirMason hosts your employee handbook via unique URL publically, or password protected. Learn more about our features here.

Best Practices for Creating a Public Employee Handbook

When creating a public employee handbook, there are several best practices to follow in order to ensure the document is both comprehensive and effective. These include utilizing inclusive language, regularly updating the handbook, and engaging various stakeholders in the development process.

Adherence to these best practices enables organizations to create a handbook that not only fulfills legal requirements, but also acts as a valuable resource for employees, aiding them in navigating their workplace and excelling in their roles. In turn, a well-crafted handbook can significantly enhance employee engagement, retention, and overall organizational success.

Inclusive Language

Employing inclusive language is vital when developing a public employee handbook. Inclusive language fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace by ensuring that all employees feel valued, respected, and included, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, or other attributes.

To achieve this, avoid language that is offensive, discriminatory, or exclusionary, and opt for gender-neutral terms and language that is respectful of different cultures, religions, and abilities.

Regular Updates

Maintaining your employee handbook’s up-to-date status is critical to guarantee its continued relevance, accuracy, and compliance with pertinent laws and regulations. Regular updates allow organizations to:

  • Adapt to changes in the market, company policies, industry standards, and regulatory requirements
  • Minimize legal risks
  • Promote a healthy work environment.

Establish an internal review standard, track changes in laws and regulations, and create a process for employees to provide feedback to guarantee that your handbook remains current and effective.

Collaboration and Input

Engagement of various stakeholders in the process of creating a public employee handbook is crucial to ensure the document’s comprehensiveness, accuracy, and relevance to the organization’s needs. This includes engaging:

  • HR
  • Legal counsel
  • Department heads
  • Employees

This will guarantee that the handbook accurately reflects the unique requirements and policies of different departments within the organization.

By soliciting feedback from employees and incorporating their insights, organizations can create a handbook that is both useful and engaging for the entire workforce. This process also serves as an opportunity to inform employees about the handbook’s content and purpose.

Examples of Outstanding Public Employee Handbooks

Looking for inspiration? Some outstanding public employee handbooks serve as excellent examples to emulate. For instance, Pronto Marketing’s employee handbook web page is a near-perfect example of a well-crafted, user-friendly resource that you can expect employees to find helpful.

Valve’s handbook, presented in an engaging storybook format, offers a comprehensive career and company roadmap to its employees. By studying these examples, organizations can gain valuable insights into creating their own exceptional employee handbooks that effectively communicate policies, procedures, and company culture.

Accessibility and Distribution of Public Employee Handbooks

Guaranteeing easy accessibility and distribution of new employees employee handbooks to employees is critical for optimizing their effectiveness. By providing handbooks in digital formats and incorporating handbook review into new employee training and orientation programs, organizations can guarantee that their employees have easy access to the information they need to succeed in their roles.

Digital Formats

Offering handbooks in digital formats provides numerous advantages, including:

  • Convenience
  • Searchability
  • The ability to make updates and revisions
  • Cost efficiency
  • Environmental friendliness

By providing employees with easy access to their handbooks in a digital format, organizations can ensure that they remain informed and engaged, while also adhering to legal requirements and promoting environmental sustainability.

Training and Orientation

Include handbook review in new employee training and orientation programs is essential to guarantee that employees are well-acquainted with the organization’s policies, procedures, and expectations from the onset. By providing clear and concise information, using interactive activities to engage employees, and offering opportunities for employees to ask questions and provide feedback, organizations can create a robust and effective training and orientation program that sets employees up for success.

Digital Employee Handbook Builder

A digital employee handbook builder is a revolutionary tool that streamlines the creation and management of company policies and guidelines. By leveraging user-friendly interfaces and customizable templates, this innovative software empowers HR professionals and managers to effortlessly craft comprehensive handbooks tailored to their organization’s unique culture and needs. From onboarding to ongoing updates, the platform simplifies the process, allowing for easy edits, real-time collaboration, and seamless distribution across teams. With features like version control and compliance tracking, it ensures that policies remain up-to-date and in alignment with evolving regulations. Ultimately, a digital employee handbook builder revolutionizes how companies communicate their standards, fostering transparency, consistency, and a cohesive work environment.

Legal Considerations for Public Employee Handbooks

During the creation of a public employee handbook, it’s vital to factor in legal aspects like compliance with employment laws, including federal, state, and local laws, protecting employee free speech rights, and integrating EEO policies to deter discrimination and harassment.

By addressing these legal considerations, organizations can create a handbook that not only meets legal requirements, but also fosters a positive and inclusive work environment.

First Amendment Rights

Striking a balance between employee First Amendment rights and upholding a professional work environment forms a significant aspect of developing a public employee handbook. While employees have the right to freedom of speech, expression, and association in the workplace, these rights must be balanced with the employer’s need to conduct business operations effectively.

By outlining clear guidelines for employee behavior and speech in the workplace, organizations can create an environment that respects First Amendment rights while promoting professionalism and accountability.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policies

Include EEO policies in a public employee handbook is essential for ensuring fairness and equality in the workplace. These policies help prevent discrimination and harassment, promote diversity and inclusion, and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

By incorporating EEO policies, organizations can create a work environment that values and respects all employees, ultimately contributing to a more engaged and productive workforce.


In conclusion, a well-crafted public employee handbook is an invaluable resource that promotes transparency, accountability, legal compliance, employee engagement, and retention. By incorporating essential components such as government policies and regulations, employee rights and responsibilities, and benefits and compensation, organizations can create a comprehensive handbook that serves as a powerful communication tool for employees. By following best practices, regularly updating the handbook, and ensuring its accessibility and distribution, organizations can set the stage for a thriving work environment and overall organizational success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are employee handbooks considered confidential?

Employee handbooks are not considered confidential by the National Labor Relations Board, as they can be seen as part of an employee’s working conditions that may be discussed with third parties.

This means that employers should be aware that any information contained in the handbook may be shared with others, and should be careful to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date.

Can I ask to see the employee handbook?

You have the right to request to see the employee handbook. It may provide important information regarding workplace rights, such as paid time off (PTO) and sick leave policies, that you should be aware of before signing any agreements.

Asking for the employee handbook is a wise move that can benefit both you and your employer.

What are the new names for employee handbook?

The employee handbook can now be referred to as the staff or employee manual, employee field guide, or culture code.

What are the 7 typical employee handbook categories?

What are the 7 typical employee handbook categories?

An employee handbook typically includes Employment Basics, Workplace Policies, Code of Conduct, Compensation and Development, Benefits and Perks, Working Hours, PTO and Vacation, and Employee Resignation and Termination.

Can you share your employee handbook?

Based on federal labor law, discussing an employee handbook with third parties is a protected activity.

Thus, sharing your employee handbook may be possible in certain circumstances.

Tehsin Bhayani

AirMason was born when Tehsin was trying to create a digital culture book, but couldn’t find any solutions in the market that had all the features he needed. In 2016, AirMason officially launched. In five years, AirMason has created thousands of handbooks for more than 1,000 clients around the world.

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