HR & People | 6 Min Read

The Essential Things You Should Include In Your Employee Handbook

author Written by Amit Ghodasara January 4, 2021

The Essential Things You Should Include In Your  Employee Handbook

Every effective practice needs precise guidelines and explanations that give people direction and help them understand expectations, activities, and benefits. The workplace is no different, and being familiar with rules and policies will help every new worker adjust to their job position. That is why employee handbooks could be crucial for smooth integration and productivity.

However, not every organization puts much effort into developing a high-quality handbook, nor every employee comprehends its significance and reads it. HR departments should raise and nurture an awareness about the meaning and advantages of having an employee handbook and ensuring that every hire receives it.

Employee Handbook

Even if you have a small team and you consider them redundant, think again and analyze whether it can improve the process and employee performance. On the other side, employee handbooks should be necessary for large enterprises and organizations with big teams. In such an environment, new workers often feel lost and like minor elements of a giant mechanism. Having a work and company guide would help them understand their role and importance.

What is an Employee Handbook?

Perhaps you know them under a different name; a staff manual or an employee field guide. No matter the name, they always have one goal - they help a hire navigate their new workplace and start the job. It presents a document every worker should receive during the onboarding training or on their first working day. 

Just like with the name, they might come in a different form, depending on the company. Some employers will deliver them as a copy in a welcome mail, and others as longer-form documents that will be referred to as long as one works at the company. 

Employee handbook's content will assure that each hire feels ready and well-equipped for their job, and that can instantly increase their productivity and motivation. But although having it is not only a good idea, but it also enhances employee experience, the handbook itself is not a legal requirement. That's why most companies decide to develop it to mitigate potential conflict between workers and the company.

Whether you want to protect your organization from misunderstandings or aim to make your new employees feel at home, there are certain things you should include in the employee handbook.

The Essential Policies You Should Include In Your Employee Handbook

1. Basic employment definitions

It's recommendable to cover the elementary employment-related explanations first and start with a welcome message. That will help the employee fully understand the terms of their contract and job position's requirements and classification. If they ever have some basic doubts or questions, they can turn to this part and get their answers. 

While it's always beneficial to address attendance rules, during the pandemic and remote work, it might be necessary. Let your employees know if they can take a day-off and are teleworking hours any different from the office, and how do you monitor presence.

Hence, this is how your basic part of the Employee Handbook can look like:

Employee Handbook

  • Contract types:

While you might think this is obvious and already clear, leave no place for doubts. Explain full-time and part-time positions, interns, and apprentices (or any other you might hire).

  • Diversity & equity:

Show your team that the company promotes meritocracy by stating that you aim to create and maintain a workplace with equal opportunities for everyone.

  • Hiring process & background screening:

Go through the company's recruiting and selection process and lay down all the usual steps HR teams take. Thus, this might be the perfect moment to outline whether the company conducts (pre)employment background checks and online screening. If you have a referral or employee rewards program, use this opportunity to define the procedure and requirements

  • Presence:

Define attendance procedure and rules; explain when, how, and what should hires do when they need to take a day-off or free time. Besides, address when and whether there are situations when unreported absence is acceptable.

2. Basic company information

Some may opt to place this part before basic employment definitions, but it is also okay to rank it as the second practice.

Every comprehensive handbook consists of general information about the employer that helps the worker meet their company and learn about its background. Therefore, this is the part where you should outline the company's mission statement, vision and goals, organizational culture, history, and main office contact details.

3. Workplace policies

The crucial section of each employee handbook is the one that helps workers understand what the company's workplace is and what it strives to be. Hence, outline the workplace conditions and talk about the essential policies, such as anti-harassment. These are the definitions that make your company a place where employees want to be, where they can grow and learn.

These are the policies you can address in this section:

  • Data protection & confidentiality:

Explain the rules about information protection and any other you find crucial for your company and employees.

  • Workplace safety & health:

Present the guidelines that ensure that your employees can maintain and work in a safe and healthy work environment. You can mention what it is that your company does to adhere to safety and occupational laws or what is prohibited in order to keep a healthy workplace, such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol.

  • Harassment & bullying:

Co-worker and workplace bullying and violence are a sad but actual reality, which results in emotional distress and employee turnover. Create a policy that shows your commitment to eliminating and punishing workplace bullying and harassment.

How soft skills can be developed at the workplace

4. Code of conduct

Define the worker's behaviour and workplace ethics framework by stating how do you expect employees to treat their co-workers, superiors, and stakeholders. Thus, explain the dress code and whether you require one. The layout of the digital conduct framework, when employees can use their mobile phones and are there any particular rules concerning social media and internet usage.

It's also recommendable to explain if there is anything your company considers as a conflict of interest and what are the consequences.

5. Salary & development opportunities

Another crucial part is to define compensation and when and how the employee will receive their payment. Explain your performance evaluation and how do you review objective accomplishment. 

For employees, especially millennials and generation Z, it is essential to know whether there are any development and progress opportunities. Describe which training and possibilities your company provides. These activities are among your most significant retention elements.

6. Employee benefits & perks

Workers are often unaware of what kind of perks their company provides, and this is another efficient retention strategy. Therefore, proudly lay out the benefits and keep your hires informed. Some of the potential perks are private health insurance, work from home, great parking spots, gym membership, and providing employees with company equipment.

Employee benefits

7. Working hours & holidays

One of the main things employees will care to know is their working hours, paid time off (PTO), list of holidays, sick, parental, and bereavement leave. Also, explain the procedure of days-off for civic duties, such as voting.

8. Resignation & work termination

Each employee life-cycle comes to an end, whether it is due to retirement or having to quit for personal or professional reasons. Define all these policies, including progressive discipline and references.

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