Many companies invest thousands of dollars into developing a desirable culture.
From the benefits on offer to the workspace where teams collaborate, every detail plays a role in creating a place where people want to work. However, there is often one vital cultural tool that goes unutilized for many organizations — the employee handbook.
Every company has one (or they should at least!), but most don’t use them to their full potential. Instead of painting a picture of the company culture, many employee handbooks simply lay out general rules, dull guidelines, and stiff policies.
So how do you make the shift from a less-than-inspiring handbook everyone “reads” (they sign off on it, at least), to one that tells the real story behind your brand?
As you’ll see from the examples in this article, the answer is to make reading the employee handbook an engaging experience, not just a must-do.
What to Avoid in Your Employee Handbook
One of the biggest hurdles companies face with their employee handbook is engagement. Generally, new employees will skim through sections and read the areas that are important or interesting to them, or that pertain to their position. This means that certain key points — items like the intellectual property section for instance, or other important procedures — might be skipped over altogether.
To help prevent your employees from skipping any pages, try to avoid:
✕ Long sentences
✕ Large blocks of text
✕ Numerous consecutive pages without a visual feature
✕ Small font
✕ Technical jargon
What Makes an Employee Handbook Engaging?
You may be asking yourself, “That all sounds good, but how do I make my handbook more engaging?”
Great question! It’s not necessarily as hard as you might think it would be, and there are many ways to approach it. Here are just a few ideas you can try that have worked for some clients of AirMason:
Include visuals and brand colors throughout to make the handbook easier to digest
Utilize a conversational tone throughout to draw the reader in
Go the extra mile to explain why specific rules are in place
Highlight items such as company values and the mission statement as it relates to workplace culture
Capture what it is like to work at your organization with employee testimonials
Let’s see how other companies are putting the ideas above into action with their employee handbooks.
5 Examples to Inspire Your Employee Handbook
The Uber employee handbook delivers a unique experience for new employees, thanks to the AirMason platform. Not only does the document focus on topics beyond general rules, like diversity & inclusion and social impact, but it also uses a tone that connects with readers.
It’s evident after the first couple of pages that the company has a goal for its employee handbook: to push its core values. Focusing on diversity in the workplace and growth opportunities gives readers a great idea of what to expect within the coming months.
Visuals are included in the handbook to break up topics and to keep new team members’ attention where it needs to be. Videos welcome drivers to the company and set the precedent for what is to come as a new member of the Uber family.
The aim of the Patagonia employee handbook is clear to new employees the moment they begin reading. Culture is a part of everything the company does.
Throughout the document, new teammates are introduced to the company’s core values and mission statement to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
These guiding values are carried throughout the document and set the expectations by which all employees are to act. The conversational tone is used well to help team members connect personally with the company.
With the help of AirMason, Netflix has transformed its employee handbook into a hugely welcoming, upbeat experience for new team members. Branded as part manifesto, part employee handbook, the Netflix Employee Culture Guide instantly gives readers a view of what the business is truly all about, beyond what they do; it’s about who they are.
The 30+ slide presentation uses short sentences and paragraphs to make complex topics easy to understand. The conversational writing style also makes it easier to digest slides with heavier “legalese” and difficult-to-navigate topics like confidentiality.
The employee handbook also features pictures and graphics from current employees that outline what to expect when working at Netflix.
4. Zappos Employee Handbook
Regarded as one of the best places to work globally, Zappos has done an excellent job showcasing its culture through its employee handbook.
The Zappos employee handbook, often referred to as the culture book, is full of pictures, quotes, and testimonials provided by current and former employees. By focusing on their team members, Zappos can connect with new workers through the employee handbook.
Another thing that makes the Zappos culture book stand out is the way rules and guidelines are presented. Instead of a traditional bullet-point format, the company has found exciting ways to get its core values across, including the famous “Comic Book edition.”
5. Motley Fool Employee Handbook
The Motley Fool employee handbook, better known as “ The Fool Rules,” is an excellent example of using concise writing to engage readers. Its digital handbook is filled with short, concise writing and features links that expand upon topics. This allows readers to quickly move through the document and learn more about specific topics if interested.
The Fool Rules also helps the Motley Fool culture shine through. The pages include items such as:
✓ Staff photos
✓ Maps of the offices
✓ A glossary to help new hires learn the company vocabulary
Create an Employee Handbook Your Team
Will Enjoy with AirMason
Creating an employee handbook that showcases your culture while addressing all the necessary topics and remaining engaging can be difficult. AirMason makes the process a little easier by letting you create stunning digital handbooks, manuals, and other online documents, with the easy-to-use editor. There’s also no need to worry about hosting the document either – the team has it covered, even using a custom domain of your choice to ensure a fully branded experience for your employees.