How to get your Employee Handbook right

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Employee handbooks are a fantastic tool. They’re not just for the privileged corporates, but all employers should invest in an employee handbook. This tool is where you can present to your staff (your most expensive and valued resource) the values and work practices of your business.

A handbook should be used as a reference point because this is where the guidelines, policies and procedures of how you expect your employees to behave are laid out. It’s a two way communication as it also highlights what the employee can expect from you as their employer. The parameters within which everyone has to operate are clear and transparent making the relationship between employee and employer less ambiguous.

So, what would you include in such a handbook? Well, although there are some basic policies that should show up in the handbook such as disciplinary procedures, annual leave rules, what happens in the event of sickness absence, this is really down to the employer. To get employees to become engaged from the outset, why not discuss with them what is important to all the stakeholders, what behaviours do you want to promote, what behaviours you wish to discourage. Whatever you choose to include, it is important to ensure the content in your handbook is bespoke to your business, that it reflects your company, values and ethos.

Some tips to consider when drawing up a handbook:
  1. Do not download templates from the internet – one size does not fit all.
  2. Allow the handbook to be guidelines and process rather than rules.
  3. Keep the policies and procedures non-contractual.
  4. Ensure the handbook is kept up to date – have it reviewed at least once a year.
  5. Encourage your staff to read it during their induction period and certainly every time it is updated.


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