What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook is a detailed, comprehensive guide for both newer and more experienced employees. A handbook outlines the mission, values, policies and regulations of an organization. New employees can refer to it during the onboarding process, while older employees can continue using it as a reference guide.

What are employee handbook templates?

Employee handbooks act as the perfect manual for employees to learn more about their employer and form their expectations. It is ideal for employees to receive the employee manuals on their first day or even before that. If your employees feel like they are on the same page, they will develop a team spirit and a more positive approach.

Employee handbooks are an underutilized tool with a lot of potential. If you want to create an employee handbook covering all the basics with ease, you can follow an employee handbook outline. You can access handbook templates that will include the basic information common to all templates. You can review the topics, make your adjustments, and customize the template to suit your needs. You will save a significant amount of time, and you will have no worries about missing out on important details. You can download an employee handbook template for free and begin working on it immediately.

Every organization is unique because of its core values and goals. An employee handbook will uphold the personality of the organization, allowing employees to develop affection and loyalty towards their employer.  Ideally, the handbook will contain:

  • Culture, mission statement and values of the company
  • Obligations and rights about employment
  • Human resource and legal information
  • Information regarding what the company expects from employees and what the employees can look forward to from the company
  • Organizational policies about sick days, salary payment and vacation
  • Safety regulations and employee protection policies

Hence, they can help to structure the workplace efficiently.

New employees in an orientation

Presenting your employee handbook

You cannot risk your employees ignoring the handbook. A complicated and boring document will not do much to hold the attention of the readers. Plan the format, layout and overall presentation carefully if you want to create a great employee handbook.

•    Printed books:

If you want to take a more traditional approach, you can opt for a printed booklet. It feels more concrete in the hands of the employees, and they will find it easier to preserve the document. You can also take a creative approach like the company Zappos that formatted its handbook like a comic book. However, printed manuals are impossible to update, and you will have to reprint and redistribute the handbook every time you want to make changes.

•    Digital manuals:

A digital handbook feels more modern and is more versatile. You can update it constantly and also link it to other resources. Digital handbooks are easily accessible through mobile means, and you will be able to update them in real-time conveniently. There will be no scope for employees to lose the document.  beA massive advantage of the digital approach is that you can incorporate multimedia like audio and videos in the handbook, which will engage the readers further.

When choosing which approach to take, you have to consider the requirements of your organization carefully. You can even take a look at some examples of employee handbooks created by other companies for a burst of inspiration.

Employee handbook templates for policies and safety

One of the most important objectives of an employee handbook is to convey the legal policies and employee safety provisions of the organization. It helps to avoid misunderstandings and allows the readers to get a complete picture.

  • Whether you want to establish a confidentiality clause or implement data protection measures, this section of the handbook is key.
  • You also have to cover the anti-harassment and anti-violence policies of the company in this section so that employees are aware of the measures they can take to help remove harassment and violence from the workplace.
  • In order to keep your employees safe and healthy, you have to state the occupational health and safety laws that will differ from industry to industry. Mention how the employees are expected to comply and how they can be penalized if they fail to do so.

You can follow a template for the policies and safety section in the employee handbook.

new employees in an orientation discussing company policy

Why do you need an employee handbook or manual?

There is no compulsion for you to create an employee handbook, but your organization will enjoy plenty of benefits from doing so. One of the main reasons why employee handbooks are essential is that they help mitigate conflict between the company and employees and among the employees themselves because all vital information is laid out in clear, concrete terms. According to Gusto, 87% of small businesses sized 10-200 create employee handbooks. You can also enjoy the following benefits:

  1. New employees adjust faster to their workplace after learning about its mission, stories and core values. They will feel at home with the company culture, which will boost engagement—the manual acts as a helpful resource for them to consult whenever necessary.
  2. Employee handbooks make it easier for employees to get familiar with a consistent set of rules, procedures and policies.
  3. It is easier to establish set expectations beforehand through an employee handbook. It details the working atmosphere and conditions for newer employees and states what is expected of them.
  4. An employee handbook also acts as a legal document since it dictates how the employees can be treated on ethical and legal terms. Employees can become more familiar with possible lawsuits and penalties. The code of conduct section will help employees assume appropriate behavior at work.

Tips on writing an employee handbook

XpertHR’s 2020 Survey on Employee Handbooks concluded that 66% of HR representatives find it somewhat or very difficult to get their employees to read the handbook. Creating the handbook is not enough; you have to ensure that it is accessible and enjoyable to the readers. Once you get a working handbook and training template, you can use the following tips to create an employee handbook that will be appreciated by all your employees.

  • While it is important to deliver valuable insights into the company, it is even more important to do so in clear and lucid language. Filling up the handbook with legal, technical jargon and complicated terms will deter your employees from going through it.
  • Using positive language will convince your readers to follow the instructions instead of being defensive. Explain why a certain rule is valuable to the company’s operations. A welcoming and instructional tone appeals to readers more than an authoritative one.
  • Address your readers directly. You want to remind your employees that you are speaking to them through the handbook, and these words hold value. Using active voice along with first-person and second-person pronouns will make the handbook more accessible because the reader will be able to establish an instant connection with the author.
  • You can inject some humor into your handbook to keep it entertaining and pleasant. You can balance the serious with the fun so that the readers remain engaged.
  • The tone of the employee handbook should match your company culture. If it reflects the everyday work life, employees will be able to relate to the information given faster.
  • Make sure that your legal team inspects the employee handbook closely before you begin the distribution process. You can also arrange for employee feedback.

senior employeese training new hires

Topics to include in an employee handbook

All employee handbooks usually contain the following information:

1. Company information

The employee handbook should begin with a section detailing the values, objectives and mission of the company. Discussing the company’s history also helps employees realize that they are a part of the bigger organization and how their contribution can make a difference. Once the tone is set, the company culture becomes easier to understand.

2. Legal information

Using the employee handbook to convey legal information related to the company and the industry is an excellent way of ensuring that everyone is familiar with the essentials. Knowing the laws, regulations and policies in detail will help employees stay out of trouble.

3. Employee expectations

New employees, in particular, find it helpful when they have a detailed list of the organization’s expectations from them. You can outline the attendance policy, establish a code of conduct and provide guidelines on how employees should handle conflicts in the workplace.

4. Working hours and leaves

Employees want to know the duration of their workday and how they can utilize leave-days when they join a company. You can include the relevant policies in the employee handbook and establish the guidelines they will be expected to follow. Mention the working hours, any exceptions that might occur, and the number of paid days off you offer. It is also important to explain the rules and compensation related to holidays and sick leaves.

5. Code of Conduct

You will provide a framework for employee behavior without leaving any room for misjudgments and errors. Stress on ethics and trust being the building blocks of a professional workspace and provide guidelines as to how employees should behave with each other and their superiors.

6. Benefits

Disclosing all the benefits and perks offered by the organization in the employee handbook will do a lot to improve the employees’ motivation. Employee health provisions and workers’ compensation are two of the main topics to address in the handbook since they demonstrate how willing you are to help your employees. Company-issued equipment, allotted parking spaces and company cars can also be addressed in this section.

7. Workplace Policies

It is important to be completely transparent with your employees about the working atmosphere at the company. Every employee deserves to feel safe and secure at the workplace, which is why an organization has to outline its anti-harassment and anti-violence policies in detail in the employee handbook. Employees can thrive and perform better in a peaceful and lawful environment. Make it clear that no violence or harassment will be tolerated. You can also mention the organization and occupational policies to be followed by employees and stress the importance of compliance.

Employee handbooks in different industries

The employee handbook will have variations from industry to industry.

restaurat employees read a digital handbook

•    Food Servicing

If you access a food and beverage service employee handbook template, you will find that restaurants and cafes have to outline their meal and drinking policies for employees. Since the food servicing industry is all about presentation and customer satisfaction, employees have to follow a specific dress code and maintain a code of conduct at all times. Moreover, they have to abide by food safety and sanitation regulations stringently to avoid any mishaps. All food and beverage service employees have to behave professionally with customers, or else they can be in trouble. The handbook details how they should deal with conflicts and what kind of penalties they might have to face if they break the guidelines.

•    Healthcare

An employee handbook for caregivers, a nursing home employee handbook and a hospital employee handbook share some common elements. They strictly detail the safety protocols to be followed by employees when handling patients and outline a specific code of conduct. The handbook also contains information regarding the health resources allocated for employees. Workplace compliance is one of the vital sections to be covered in all three manuals. All healthcare employees are expected to be familiar with patient rights, HIPAA regulations and the Stark Law if they practice in the United States. The handbook acts as a resource for healthcare training.

Why should you use Bites?

If you want to opt for a modern solution to create a personalized employee handbook for every industry, you do not have to look any further than Bites. You will be able to piece together a comprehensive manual using short videos with the help of Bites. You can incorporate presentations and media files into the videos to make them immersive and appealing. Bites makes it easy for you to distribute the employee handbook among your employees in the form of a playlist, and you will be able to track their progress. The readers will leave their feedback, allowing you to update the manual as you go. You can even test your employees with the help of quizzes.

Bites will help you create a new-age, creative employee handbook. Access Bites training templates now!