How many pages does your employee handbook contain

How to Write an Employee Handbook (For Your Small Business)

Does your small business need an employee handbook?

To many entrepreneurs, an employee handbook may sound like a kind of bureaucratic bureaucracy that only large corporations have to worry about. And some may not know what it is or have even thought about it. However, when you are starting to employ more than a handful of people, a manual can be extremely valuable.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to write an employee handbook. Find out exactly what an employee handbook is, why your small business needs it, and what should be in it. We'll also look at some useful templates and examples to help you create your own little employee handbook.

Ready to Write Your Small Business Employee Handbook? (Photo source)

1. What is an employee handbook?

An employee manual, sometimes referred to as an employee manual or a policy and procedure manual, is a document that tells your employees what to expect when they work for you.

While often practical details like vacation time, benefits, disciplinary procedures, etc., it can also be a good place to introduce your employees to the company in other ways. They can explain the values ​​of your company and the nature of your job. You can let employees know who to contact if they have any questions or problems. There's a lot more you can cover - we'll get into the contents of this later in the tutorial.

There is no set format for writing an employee handbook. This is your document and you can choose how you want to communicate with your co-workers. In fact, the tone and format you use can by itself convey something about your company's values. The manual can be playful or formal, contemporary or traditional, graphic or text-heavy. We'll also look at some examples and templates later in the tutorial so you can see how other companies have handled this.

Traditionally it was a printed book, and many companies still use this format. You can also make it available in digital form, e.g. B. on a company intranet or on a shared file server. This is especially useful if your employees often travel or work remotely - then they can access it from anywhere.

The basic purpose of an employee handbook is to set expectations. In this way, your employees can know what advantages and support they can expect from you and what standards, work and behavior you expect from them. It provides clarity on both sides.

If you're just starting out and only have one or two employees, you might not need an employee handbook just yet. Informal communication may work flawlessly on this scale. However, once you start expanding, you will really see the benefits of this clear documentation. Some of these benefits are described in the next section.

2. Benefits of an employee handbook

If you are unsure whether your company needs a manual or handbook, read this section to discover some of the benefits.

Create better workplace guidelines

The most important point of an employee handbook is to document everything an employee needs to know for their work. But sometimes documenting all of these things helps find better options.

You can write down the section on attendance guidelines, for example if you find that for some job functions it is unimportant if someone is late while they are doing the job (while for other other tasks time can be very important) . So you have a more flexible formula than before.

Help new hires update themselves

You probably know what it's like to start a new job. So many new faces, an unfamiliar office, different processes and technical jargon than in your old job. Usually you have a thousand questions to ask and feel guilty about asking them because everyone around them is so busy with their own work.

A well-written employee handbook is ideal for helping new employees get on their feet faster. While you won't read the entire cover of the book from start to finish, you can use it as a quick reference to easily answer many of your questions.

Avoid constant questions about guidelines

If you don't have an employee handbook, expect constant questions - not just from new employees, but from existing ones as well. How many vacation days do we get? What national holidays are we paid for? What are the rules for having a conflict of interest or working elsewhere?

There are many things in the workplace that can create confusion, and you could end up spending a lot of time asking the same questions - or worse, employees following the wrong guidelines for not asking.

Have everything in one place

Sometimes companies have documented their policies, but in a fragmented form. Some things are recorded on the intranet, but in different places, while others were only communicated via email. When employees need to look up something, they have to go on an elaborate treasure hunt.

This can be irritating to your employees and is obviously not an efficient way of working. An employee handbook summarizes everything in one place so that information can be found quickly and easily.

Communicate your values

While the policies and procedures are easy to dig into, an employee handbook is also your chance to tell the story of your company and align your employees with their values. Why does your company exist? What are you all working on? What is your position on issues such as diversity and social responsibility? This is a great way to motivate and motivate your employees and make sure that everyone has the same values ​​about the values ​​of the company.

Avoid lawsuits

I mentioned in the first section that the basic goal of the employee handbook is to have clear expectations on both sides. This clarity can also protect you legally.

For example, let's say you need to fire one of your employees for not being there or harassing a colleague. The clerk may try to sue you for unfair dismissal, claiming that it was never made clear to you that these matters were a cause for dismissal. Once you've set these guidelines in your handbook and documented that all employees receive copies of them, you will have a stronger defense.

3. What is in an employee handbook?

As mentioned earlier, no format is required for writing an employee handbook. However, there are some general sections that many businesses and small businesses have. In this section, we're going to look at those sections and what you might want to add. Remember, however, that you can always add or customize the document to cover the most important information for your company.

Important note: Some countries have labor laws that prescribe certain things that you must include in the employee handbooks. Envato Tuts + has a global audience, so we cannot cover all local differences here. Be sure to find out about any local regulations that may apply. It is also a good idea to have an attorney review an employee handbook so you can be sure that you are complying with all relevant laws and that you are not vulnerable to future litigation.

OK, now let's look at the general sections that can be found in a small business employee handbook.

Company overview

Employee handbooks often begin with a general introduction and overview of the company. They could include a brief history of the company, a timeline of key events, and a statement of key values ​​and goals.

Security guidelines

Your employees spend a lot of time on work, and their safety is most important. This section tells you what to do in the event of an emergency or an accident at work, how to access first aid, fire protection measures, etc.

Declaration on diversity and equality

This is your opportunity to show your commitment to equal opportunities in the workplace and say that you do not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on age, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, disability, etc.

They can also provide more details about what discrimination and harassment means so that those affected are clear about what is covered and give employees a procedure to follow if they think they are being harassed or harassed in the workplace to be discriminated. For more information on diversity, see our series on diversity in the workplace.

Payment and benefits

Include when and how employees can expect a payment, how taxes and other deductions will be made, and whether they are eligible for overtime (if some employees get overtime and others don't, or if not) are full-time and others part-time, make these classifications very clear). You can also provide details about other types of compensation such as bonuses and stock options, if applicable.

Then include all the benefits your company offers, such as health insurance, pension, etc. You can also provide details of the paid vacation policy here, such as: B. Parental leave, sick leave, vacation pay, etc. For more information on the benefits, see the previous tutorial in this series:

behaviour rules

What standards do you expect from your employees? Here you can set everything from the dress code to the expected level of attendance and punctuality. You could also deal with things like internet and social media usage if you want to limit that.

However, it is up to you how many details you go into. Some companies prefer not to present rules that sound like a criminal offense, but rather provide general guidelines and let employees decide at their own discretion. You will see some examples later. However, there still may be a few things that you need to be precise and clear about in your small business employee handbook, such as: B. the need to keep company and customer data confidential.

Discipline and Termination

Give employees a clear idea of ​​what disciplinary process is and what action is being taken. Also, let them know what to do if they feel they have been treated unfairly. Then you can set the policy for what should happen in the event of termination.

Remember that any disciplinary procedures you set out in this section may be binding. So be careful about getting involved in anything that you don't want to follow in every single case. For example, if you state in the manual that you are giving a series of verbal and written warnings about disciplinary matters, you could get into trouble if you later fire an employee without having given all of those warnings.

acknowledgment of receipt

It is important to document that each employee received a copy of the manual. Every employee has to sign an acknowledgment of receipt of the manual. This is usually included at the end of the manual so that the employee can sign and separate it so that you can keep the copy in their personnel file. In the event that a dispute arises later, people cannot claim that they do not know the guidelines.

Legal Notice

After a lawyer has reviewed your employee handbook, they may ask you to add additional wording, for example that the handbook is a guide, not a contract, and that future employment is not guaranteed. The wording depends on where you are and what situation you are in. Therefore, make sure that you take advantage of individual legal advice.

4. Templates and examples for employee handbooks

While an employee handbook is a unique document for each company that you likely want to create yourself, it can certainly be helpful to start with a template that you can work from. In this section, I'll point you to some useful resources for employee handbook templates. We'll also look at some real-world examples. These can help you write your own small business or employee handbook.

Templates for employee handbooks

There are a few websites where you can find employee handbook templates. For example, Human Resource Solutions in the UK has a free employee handbook template on its website. The document is 40 pages long and very detailed, so it would be a good starting point to create your own document.

Check out this web-based tool provided by Rocket Lawyer. Instead of providing a template, you can create your own document online by providing information about your company and the policies you want to include. You must register for a free trial of membership with Rocket Lawyer to access the final result.

There are many more templates and document creators out there. For example, try FitSmallBusiness or FormSwift. However, keep in mind that some of the templates you can find online are tailored to the rules in certain countries. As such, you may need to change them and / or seek legal assistance if you are located elsewhere.

Also, keep in mind that the more personalization you can do, the better. Use the templates as a starting point, not a finished product. As you will see in a moment, a truly personal manual can be a very effective way of communicating with your co-workers.

Examples of a real employee handbook

Now let's look at some real manuals from real companies. First, review the Rock Spring Farm Employee Handbook, kindly provided by Practical Farmers of Iowa. It's a simple small business guide that explains a little about the company and then goes through many of the sections just discussed. It's only 12 pages long and legible, and there are some nice personal touches too - check out the Team Secrets page at the end.

Some companies also go a little further. This Nasdaq article has some cool examples for your inspiration.

For example, the video game developer manual Valve Corporation has the best subtitle ever:

"A fearless adventure when you know what to do when nobody is around to tell you what to do"

Then it goes on in a wonderfully chatty tone to guide you through the work at Valve. There are some guidelines and procedures here, but it really doesn't feel like you are reading a policy document. It feels like you're getting a friendly introduction to a place that's fun to work on.

Valve Corporation Employee Handbook.

Finance website The Motley Fool, on the other hand, offers interactive, web-based "Fool Rules," a type of slide show that lets you view videos, view more information on specific areas, and so on. Again, it covers the same topics as a traditional manual, however in a more creative way, with an emphasis on corporate values.

Motley Fool Online Employee Handbook.

Write your own employee handbook

In this tutorial, you learned all about the small business manuals. You have seen what they are and what advantages they have. You have learned about some of the general types of information that companies provide in their employee handbooks. You have also seen some real-world examples of employee handbooks and some templates that you can use to create your own.

You are now in the best shape to write an employee handbook for your own business.If you found this tutorial helpful, be sure to check out a few others from this series where we cover in depth the small business HR functions. In the last tutorial, we looked at the pay and benefits, and in the next we looked at training and development.

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