Few employers would consider their handbooks literary masterpieces, but they don’t have to be to capture employees’ interest. Company handbooks are often considered dry, dull, or monotonous, and sometimes they’re obviously full of policies enacted to avoid past issues in the workplace. With a few tweaks, you can create a compelling handbook that employees will actually read rather than skim through or leave sitting around in their desk drawer.
Employee handbooks are critical documents that can help employers set rules and guidelines, treat workers more fairly, and reduce legal risks. They provide a road map for how employees should operate within your company and should be an introduction to your company culture. Ideally, employees would review their handbooks regularly before asking their managers basic questions about workplace practices.
Since your handbook is likely one of the few documents your employees must review, and is more than likely the only document that sums up your company’s mission and expectations, it’s important to make it engaging. Following these tips could help you draft a unique manual that employees will want to read from beginning to end.
You might not be on this website reading this document had we called it “employer blog.” Likewise, employees going into an employee manual have preconceived notions about what they’re getting themselves into when the handbook is simply titled “[Your Company’s] Employee Handbook.” They may anticipate a long, dry read and put it off until later, and may possibly never get around to reading it. It doesn’t hurt to get a little creative when giving your employee handbook a name, so long as it doesn’t mislead anyone into thinking they’ve picked up the newest New York Times’ bestseller.
Try something along the lines of “[Your Company’s] How-To Guide” or “Roadmap to Success at [Your Company].” You could even go with something more conventional like “Team Guide.” People like reading material that will help them be better at what they do, so framing it this way could boost engagement.
Every company should have a mission and make it clear to their employees. Having a mission helps you hire employees who share similar viewpoints and goals, helping to create a harmonious work environment. Your mission should clearly state the reason your employees come to work for you every day. Think about what makes you different from your competitors. How do you approach your business in a unique way that could inspire your employees to work together as a team? By stating your mission and values from the beginning, your reader will connect with the challenge presented before them. Your mission also sets the framework for upcoming policies and procedures.
If you’re considering drafting your own employee manual rather than working with a knowledgeable employee handbook attorney, you should do everything possible to avoid copying and pasting generic templates that describe company policies and procedures. The more generic the material, the more readers are likely to disengage.
Your company has a special way of doing things, and that should be clearly communicated in your handbook. Make sure the policies and procedures included in your handbook are customized for your employees. Don’t leave out important policies, and consider explaining why these policies are in place.
A good example of customizing a policy could be your dress code policy. You can articulate the image your company wishes to present internally and to clients. Your performance evaluation policy can demonstrate your commitment to promoting dedicated employees rather than hiring from outside the company to fill upper-level positions. Your benefits policy could highlight your company’s commitment to a proper work-life balance.
Speaking of benefits, your employee manual is the perfect place to show them off. Promote all your benefits and perks to keep employees enthused about choosing to work for you. Sabbaticals, paid maternity and paternity leave, retirement benefits and more are all attractive to existing and prospective employees, helping you hire and keep great talent for longer periods. A good place to showcase benefits and perks is in the beginning of the handbook, just past your mission. Later, employees can expect a dialogue of your expectations of them and how you’ll invest in them in turn.
Do your employees all have a thick paper copy of your handbook or a PDF buried in their emails? The presentation of your handbook is another way you can step outside the box to make it more palatable to your employees. It’s always a good idea to print handbooks so employees can reference it easily, but have you considered perhaps printing it in color, including images, or introducing your brand-new 2020 handbook at a company event? You could even hide gift cards for coffee in the middle of your handbooks to surprise employees who have made progress reading them.
All these efforts can go a long way in creating a handbook that helps you stand out and boost employee morale. Get started on drafting a fun and comprehensive handbook by working with The Davidovich Law Firm, LLC today.
Nathan Davidovich is a Denver-based employee handbook lawyer with more than 55 years of experience practicing employment law throughout Colorado, and a 100% Client Recommended review on Martindale.com. For a clear, concise, informative, and engaging handbook, call (303) 825-5529 or complete our contact form.