What you should include in an employee handbook

An employee handbook is a vital tool for an effective human resources strategy. Not only does it provide a clear list of guidelines for employees in all stations, but it also demonstrates a high level of professionalism – a feature that is frequently relied upon in the human resources skill set.

Fortunately, designing a handbook for employees is a fairly straightforward process. Done right, it can be made a lasting document – a bible of sorts – that undergoes regular updates while maintaining a consistent, authoritative message throughout its life.

When searching for pertinent topics to include in the employee handbook, think of how to serve the workforce best while maximizing productivity. The best employee handbooks include material that offers:

· orientation for new employees
· reference for veteran workers

A complete employee hand book will make it clear in the first few pages – as well as the last few pages – that the book is by no means a contract. Often it is advisable to have a lawyer write this part of the manual. Make it clear that it is instead a general outline of company policy and procedure. Indeed, in the next few pages you will want to describe in simple yet comprehensive language all of the company’s requirement and rules – as well as the way things are generally done around the workplace.

At this point in the employee manual, it is a good idea to reward the reader (i.e. the employee) by listing all the benefits that can be expected for one who works at the company. Couple this with a description of how the company proactively seeks the maximum benefit for each and every employee through programs, policies, and other approaches that are designed to engender a trusting relationship between the employer and the employees.

Also be sure to include a guide to termination policy. Clearly explain what behaviors can bring about what types of enforcement, and the series of steps that will be taken to fire an employee if need be.

In order to show that the company is well aware of and in accordance of the law, it is highly recommended that the employee handbook include the government’s equal opportunity notices as well as a concise run-down of local and state laws that cover topics such as maternity leave, sexual harassment, disability insurance, workers compensation and other pertinent topics.

A well-crafted employee manual will also include a detachable page at the end for the employee to sign as an acknowledgement of receipt. This not only helps to make sure that the handbook actually gets read, but it also provides the workforce with a sense of responsibility – each employee is now a part of the process.

Read more Human Resources Research Articles

hrVillage presents expert articles across a range of HR topics. Research more HR topics here.