August 2, 2021, by HR Search & Rescue Employee handbooks are one of the most important documents you will create as a company. This important document will serve as the main point of reference for how your employees will conduct themselves within your company and what policies they will need to follow. Employee handbooks are a key resource for your employees and will determine how they feel about working for you and what life as an employee will be like. Employee handbooks are not the bland documents that many see them as. In fact, a great employee handbook can actually set the tone for your company and define the employee culture that you are hoping to foster, the values you stand for, and the preferred workplace behavior you are looking for. In this article, we will go over what makes a great employee handbook, which policies are essential for success, and provide some overall tips for making an employee handbook that perfectly represents your business. What Is an Employee Handbook? Employee handbooks are a living document designed for current and future employees that outlines your company policies for employees, your history as a company, and your company culture. This document should be updated regularly as your company grows and faces inevitable challenges. A company’s employee handbook serves as the main repository for important policies regarding employee work habits, company culture, and overall how employees are expected to conduct themselves. These documents can contain some difficult legal and technical terms but are essential nonetheless. If it has been a while since you updated your employee handbook, it may be a good time to take a second look and ensure your handbook properly represents your values and culture as a company! When Do I Need An Employee Handbook? While most businesses will create employee handbooks once they reach a certain threshold of employees, the earlier you can create a handbook the better. This is because it is important to ensure that all employees are on the same page from the get-go while also protecting you from legal challenges that may come from adopting an employee handbook later on. Main Policies To Include In Your Employee Handbook The policies you include in your handbook will determine your company culture and workplace habits. This makes it important to be very precise with what you include. Some of the most important policies to include are: 1. Onboarding This is the perfect place to start because training new employees is one of the main reasons employee handbooks exist. It primes new employees for what to as well as what the company expects from them. In this section, be sure to include points such as equal opportunity, general details regarding training and team structures, potential conflicts of interest, and confidentiality agreements. Be sure to include all of the basics that you want a new employee to know about what you expect from them — behavior, collaboration, etc. 2. Code of Conduct The initial onboarding section transitions well into a code of conduct section. This section should outline in detail how employees are expected to behave and act within their roles. Be sure to include all of the policies that regulate life as an employee within your organization. This is an important section that will spell out what life will be like at your company. Even the most open and collaborative companies need to outline the ground rules for how employees are expected to conduct themselves. 3. Office Environment This section should detail what life in the office at your company looks like. This includes details such as work hours, work-from-home policies, lunch/break protocols, ADA/disability accommodations, and more. Be sure that this section includes all of the relevant details regarding how, when, and where things are expected to get done. 4. Compensation This section will be one that your employees will most likely reference multiple times during their time working for your company. In this section, there should be policies regarding all things payroll. This includes payroll schedules, bonuses, performance reviews, promotions, and more. 5. Benefits This section is similar to the compensation section and is a logical follow-up. Within the bonuses section, list out the benefits you plan to offer your team, and explain how they match up with the values you champion. When an employee is finished reading this section, they should feel knowledgeable and well taken care of. Try to start with a quick-reference section that outlines details such as which types of workers are eligible, when benefits kick in, and your plan’s policy number. Then, start with the essentials and work your way up to the benefits you want employees to be excited about. The most important plans to discuss include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off (PTO), and other policies such as sick leave and parental leave. 6. Employee Termination While this is not a fun topic to tackle, it is essential to deal with and outline properly. When a termination section is well done, it minimizes confusion and ensures a smooth transition from employment for all parties involved. Get Started With Drafting Your Employee Handbook Today Be sure to simply include the basics, including when they will receive their final paycheck, how exit interviews will work, and any benefits that terminated employees can expect. An employee handbook is not just a boring document for employees to flip through and never check again; it actually sets the tone for the culture and workplace environment you want to establish. Make sure to carefully consider all of the policies you include and take the time to really think about your employees when crafting this important document. For assistance with employee handbook services, reach out to one of our independent HR consultants today.