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HR Advice – 8 Tips on How to Create an Employee Handbook

Here’s Why You Should Have an Employee Handbook

For employers of startups and small businesses, it’s common to ask, “why do I need an employee handbook”? While the handbook is not a legal requirement, there are many benefits to having one in place; it lets you:

  • Communicate your expectations;
  • Protect your business; and
  • Showcase your company.

Consider the employee handbook as part of your welcome package for new hires; it complements the employment contract, in addition to the orientation and training process.

How to Create an Effective Employee Handbook

Because the handbook is not a legal obligation, take this opportunity to tell your employees what they have to look forward to and write something that they will want to read. Here are 8 tips on how to do so:

  1. Define your voice and use it throughout – Create a resource that tells the story of your brand and company culture. Ask yourself, “who are we”, and speak to this. Consider opening the handbook with a personalized welcome letter.
  2. Set expectations – Include policies and procedures that apply to all your employees. Be transparent about what they can expect from your leadership team and in return, what is expected of them. Focus on the positives by explaining why these structures are in place.
  3. Personify your company’s values – Write about your expectations in a tone that is consistent with the way you speak to your employees, and keep in mind how you want to define your employment relationship. If it works for your business, add some humour where it makes sense.
  4. Promote your perks – If you’ve got it, flaunt it! Put a spotlight on your employment differentiators (work perks), and talk about all the reasons why your employees love to come to work.
  5. Do your research – Make sure you’re familiar with the labour laws and employment standards that are specific to your business and include them in your handbook. It’s always a good idea to consult an HR professional if you’re unsure of what to include.
  6. Make it readable – Write in a way that’s relatable and easy to read, and use images throughout. Where you can, try to keep it short and sweet.
  7. Make it accessible – Whether in hardcopy or electronic format, look for ways to make your handbook a living document. Make sure your employees know where to find your handbook and reference it regularly.
  8. Stay relevant – Review and update your employee handbook to stay current with labour laws and continuously develop the content so that it reflects your workplace culture.

For employers who already have an employee handbook, read about How You Can Effectively Communicate Workplace Policy Changes to Your Employees.