How to Create an Employee Handbook that Doesn’t Suck!

At every single company I’ve ever worked for, at some point in my tenure, I’ve gotten yanked into helping in some way rewrite the employee handbook. I’m sure most HR pros have been in the same boat!

There’s really only two camps when it comes to employee handbooks:

Camp #1 – We’ve had the same employee handbook since the beginning of time. It’s written on stone tablets.

Camp #2 – We rewrite our employee handbook each year because it’s the most important document on the planet.

The problem is both camps usually write the employee handbook that reads like a welcome packet to prison! If you forced candidates to read your employee handbook before actually accepting a position with your company 99% would decline your offer!

Gustoan SMB HRIS provider, recently sent me a copy of a 54-page guide they put together to help organizations develop an Employee Handbook that is actually readable and engaging for your employee. It’s a really solid resource and after reading it, I’ll also pass along some of my own advice on how you can make your Employee Handbook not Suck:

1. Tell Your Story. If you can write your employee handbook in story fashion, people will actually read it. I know, I know, that takes creativity and you’re in HR and not creative! Someone in your organization is a storyteller. Have them help on the story, and you help on all the details you need to make sure get into the handbook.

2. Give them the ‘why’. We put some really dumb rules in our handbook that don’t seem to make any sense. Just give them the why. It might not make the rule any less dumb, but at least they’ll know. “No sock Thursday is because our CEO has an ankle fetish. Yeah, we know it’s weird, but it is what it is.”

3. Engage a graphic designer. Color and pictures matter to the readability of your handbook. Make it look pretty and engaging and that might cover up some of the boredom of the legalize we are required to put in our employee handbooks.

4. Use your handbook to communicate your culture. Your real culture. Don’t have a funny and engaging handbook when you have a buttoned-up culture, it sends a mix message. Also, don’t write this boring legal document of a handbook if you have “No Pants Wednesdays” in your office. It doesn’t fit your culture!

Gusto is giving their Handbook How-To Guide out for free in a download. Check it out, it has some really good information. They didn’t pay me to say this, I just liked it and wanted to share (that shouldn’t stop them from sending me these new Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2‘s in size 9 as a thank you!).



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