Article
07 Jun 2021

Your Go-To Guide For Everything About Employee Handbooks

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Many businesses fail to notice the significance of a great employee handbook for their new hires. Starting as a newbie in any company is daunting. And without the proper direction of what the company expectations are, new employees can feel lost.

Think of the employee handbook as a welcome to the company. Not only does it outline how you do things in your neck of the woods, but it’s also a great way to put across the ethos of your hard-built empire. 

With an employee handbook, everyone knows where they stand and what’s expected of them. That way, employees can do the best job possible. This means you get an outstanding employee that’s on your side right from the start. 

What Is An Employee Handbook?

Put simply, an employee handbook is a human resources (HR) document that outlines employment expectations. There are plenty of names for an employee handbook, from the staff handbook and employee manual. To more technical terms like a policy and procedure manual and onboarding. 

Whichever way you decide to name it, they all mean the same thing.

Your handbook will encompass a plethora of topics. It will cover company policies, code of conduct, and company culture. It’s handed out on your new hires’ first day, and a great employee handbook is a perfect way to greet the employee with open arms. 

Traditionally, company employee handbooks are physical documents. But thanks to the latest technology, it can be presented in many other forms. You can create an online version, much like Trello has with their simple-to-use and easily navigatable boards. Sterling has created an online handbook filled with color and images to balance out all the information. And Netflix created a slideshow with short and punchy sentences to keep their information easy to digest.

Online versions mean you can include much more in-depth information because you don’t have to worry about the price of printing. Plus, it makes it much simpler for employees to navigate back on to if they need to refresh their memories on a policy or procedure. 

If your company is creative, why not get creative with your handbook? It could include illustrations or images of current employees in action. Including info about the company culture is a great welcome because it’ll get new employees excited about the company they’re entering. And you can include all the legal stuff at the end.

Why Is An Employee Handbook So Important?

A handbook means your new employees will start their adventure with you on the right foot. Getting new hires set up to succeed right off the bat is the top reason why an employee handbook is so vital for your business. No matter what size your company’s at right now. 

Not only does it introduce people to your company’s mission and core values, but it gets all the essential information communicated effectively at the start of employment. Think of it as a company manual. It’ll cover work hours, performance reviews, perks, non-discrimination policy, and benefits employees can expect (and how to make the most of them). 

An employee handbook also gives you a home for all legal information new starters need to know. Make sure to cover health insurance, employment law, and their employment agreement. It sounds like a lot of information that’s not that fun to read - but it’s essential to include. The rules are in place to keep both parties protected and aware of their rights, should anything go wrong. 

Flair offers document management within its Employee HUB, that being said, your HR team can upload the Employee Hanbook on the HUB, so anyone from your team can access it at any given point. Click here to find out more!

What Is Included In An Employee Handbook?

A strong employee handbook should cover all bases. Whatever the question staff members might have, the guide should be able to answer. And even though they’re most important for new staff, write them with the current team in mind. Employees should feel confident that they can refer back to it throughout their employment. That’s why they need to be kept up to date.

With all that in mind, the handbook should answer whether there’s flexibility in working hours. Or whether company data should be protected - and how. Cover all bases, including sexual harassment and mental health policies. It’s integral that employees know how you’ll support them and where they can go for help. This all comes together to build a strong handbook for a company that employees will feel proud to work for.

Along with all these, an employee handbook should cover all these basic topics:

Employment Specifications

This section should house all of the basic employment information. Include their employment contract covering working hours, employee breaks, whether they’re part-time or full-time, and attendance expectations. You can incorporate whether there’s flexibility in their contracted hours or start and finish times. Remember to cover equal opportunity employment too. 

Other topics you should cover:

  • Orientation for new employees
  • Probationary period
  • Timekeeping
  • The workweek
  • Expense reimbursement

Employee Compensation

Include all the information your employee needs to know about pay. How much, when, where, and how often. Don’t leave anything to guesswork or chance. 

You can talk about legal requirements and clarify rules surrounding overtime. It’s worth including information about how to get in touch with your payroll team. Or if they would need to contact the appropriate governments for information surrounding tax codes.

Putting the information in one easy-to-digest and access document gives employees autonomy within your company. And shows that you have respect for them because no information is hidden. 

Employee Development

The development of current employees is integral to your companies growth. And showing off your robust training and development scheme leads to higher job retention. Make sure to cover any formal employee development schemes that they will be able to access, including how and when they can access them. Incorporate your recruitment procedure and how it works for them now as a fully-fledged employee. 

If performance reviews are something employees can expect (and they should be), talk about how they work and how often they’ll come round.

Time Off

Here you need to cover all the ins and outs of time off. Start with your vacation policy, including how much they get and how they will book that time off. Lots of companies have time off management apps or sites that streamline the whole process. So if you have something like that, cover it in detail. 

But time off doesn’t stop at holiday policies. There are also some instances where unpaid leave can come into play, such as sick leave, maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. Be clear on these policies and how much you will pay for, and when that stops. You should include the differences between long and short-term sick leave. 

Go over jury duty and voting. You’ll need to make sure you cover the appropriate law regarding these circumstances. And if employees need to provide documentation for the time off. 

Think about including compassionate leave if an employee experiences loss close to them. It’s not something all companies offer, but it’s a perk that establishes a trusting relationship with employees.

Code Of Conduct

In your code of conduct, you’ll get into the nitty-gritty of company expectations. Make sure to include the dress code and whether or not their devices are allowed to be used on-site or not. And whether there are any exceptions to these rules.

The code of conduct includes handling conflicts of interest with other companies and rules about having visitors on site. Plus any other sensitive issues that might arise in the workplace like employee relationships and fraternisation. That could also include the recruitment of family members. 

Workplace Policies

This is the place for important government legislation. Anything that you are legally required to make employees aware of. Such as health and safety procedures and data protection. 

Workplace policy is the place to cover your robust harassment and violence policies and procedures. Talk about what’s expected of them, how the company will support them, and what they should do if any of these situations arise.

Other topics that should be included:

  • Policy for outside company hours and site
  • Emergency procedures
  • Data policies (both company and employee)
  • Confidentiality
  • Medical procedure
  • Site security

Benefit And Perks

Companies offer a bevvy of amazing benefits and perks to their beloved employees. But often, those employees aren’t aware of them or how to make the most of what’s on offer. 

And there are so many types of benefits your company might offer. Maybe yours are flexible, and employees get to choose what they use each month. Or perhaps their perks increase the more they put in, such as bigger company pension contributions when they put more of their own money in. 

No matter the benefit or perk, you want to shout about them. And you want to make them easy to access. Other areas that you can cover (if you offer them) include:

  • Health insurance
  • Workers compensation if injuries occur
  • Expenses
  • Parking
  • Working from home
  • Company cars and/or devices
  • Discounts for other businesses

Employment Termination

It’s not a nice topic, but sometimes it happens. And you need employees to know where they stand to protect themselves. Having employees that understand expectations of termination also protects your company. And that’s because it’s down in writing, and they will have signed off that they read and understood the policy.

Sometimes the end of employment isn’t a bad thing, and your employees are off to bigger and better things - they still need to know how to end their term. 

Go over disciplinary procedures, notice periods, and how and when to terminate their employment. Make sure to cover whether you’ll provide references and how employees can access that. 

The Fun Stuff

There’s a hell of a lot of information you’ll need to include in your employee handbook. But you can add some more fun stuff too. Including your mission statement in a fun way is the perfect way to show off a bit of personality. 

Maybe include success stories, images, and even a heartfelt message from the CEO. Nothing makes new employees feel more at home than a warm welcome from the whole company. 

Ending

The end of an employee handbook doesn’t often get as much thought as the meat of it. But it’s likely to be the bit your new hire remembers the most because it’s the last thing they read. 

End on a positive note highlighting how happy you are that they’ve joined your business. You could include how often the document is updated and give them a space to sign that they’ve read and understood it in its entirety. 

And make sure to give them a big welcome both on the page and in person.

What Are The Benefits Of Having An Employee Handbook?

By now, you’ll be aware that one of the top benefits of having an employee handbook is that it’s a simple yet effective way to welcome new hires with open arms. But the benefits don’t stop there:

  • A full overview of company culture lets new hires know what they can look forward to.
  • It builds a strong and positive employment relationship from the get-go.
  • You can clarify expectations of their employment which means that misunderstandings are greatly reduced.
  • It’s a simple way to show what they can expect from the company and their management teams.
  • Employees will know what behaviours are rewarded so are more likely to replicate them in their work.
  • It protects you, your company, and the employees themselves. 
  • They’re easy to create with the Flair employee handbook template, so it won’t take up much of your time. 

Conclusion

An employee handbook comes in many forms. Whether you decide to get creative or stick to a strong business format, a manual for your employee is essential. They’re a powerful tool for consistent communication across any size company. And they allow employees to start off on the right foot and continue that attitude throughout their employment. 

So how you decide to convey the information is down to your preference and company attitude. But the importance of an employee handbook is universal. It’s absolutely crucial that you have one and that your employees read, understand, and sign it. 

Here at Flair, we understand the importance of a robust employee handbook. And our skills don’t stop there. Take the time to check out the platform we’ve lovingly built that’ll make your existing processes even more efficient.

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