When it comes to the onboarding process, whatever you can do to streamline it, the easier the adjustment period will be for your new hire. And while you might be tempted to skip creating an employee handbook (too much work!), having one could help you reduce turnover and make happier employees.
But First: Why an Employee Handbook is So Important
Nobody reads them anyway, you groan, so why bother creating one?
Your handbook sets the tone for what a new employee expects from your company. It can give her a sense of corporate culture, clearly outline rules (such as those related to sexual harassment), and tell her where to turn if she has an issue or complaint. It can also, if written from a creative standpoint, get her excited to work for your brand.
Certainly, creating a 2,000-page document may be less effective than a short, to-the-point document that addresses key issues. Focus on the topics that are most relevant to a new hire without overwhelming her with unnecessary data.
What to Include
Certainly, you’ll want to include the basics that an employee needs to know about your company in the book:
- Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) & Conflict of Interest Statements
- Anti-Discrimination & Sexual Harassment Policies
- Work Schedules
- Standards of Conduct
- General Employment Information
- Safety & Security
- Computers & Technology
- Company Mission Statement
- Media Relations
- Employee Benefits
- Leave Policies
But there are a few things that most companies forget to incorporate when drafting their employee handbooks.
Reading an employee handbook can feel like work, so make it less so by injecting a little fun and engagement in it. You can incorporate short quizzes at the end of each section to test the new hire’s knowledge of what she read, or even rename it something a bit more exciting than “employee handbook.”
Wouldn’t it be more fun to give a new hire the “Little Book of Everything You Need to Know About Your New Work Home?”
People who consume information paired with an image will remember 65% of it three days later. Images can break up monotonous text and give the reader something to savor.
Use stock images (photos and graphics) to illustrate points in humorous ways throughout your handbook. You can also use photos of actual employees to humanize your brand and let a new hire connect faces with names.
Typically, someone in HR hands a new hire the handbook along with dozens of benefits forms to fill out and sign. There’s no followup to see if she read the material or had any questions.
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You can simply follow up a few days later to see if she had questions, but even then, that doesn’t guarantee that she read it. If your employee handbook is digital, you can set it up as a platform she clicks through, giving her digital “you’re doing great!” incentives along the way. At the end, she can click a link to get a $5 coffee gift card. Suddenly she’s motivated to get through that handbook.
4. Company Personality
A boring employee handbook is going to give the impression that your company is boring! A fun and engaging handbook, however, has the potential to paint your company culture as interesting and appealing.
Rather than corporate speak in your mission statement, craft one that’s simple and to the point. Someone should be able to read it and understand exactly what your company aims to do.
Include fun tidbits in the handbook as sidebars (“ask us about our rock climbing club!”) to show off the distinct personality your company has cultivated for its employees.
While yes, you should provide an overview of benefits like health insurance and vacation time, look beyond those to outline the perks of working for your company.
If you offer a free gym membership, discounts to local businesses, or childcare, put those perks front and center. (And if you don’t offer perks like these, consider doing so, since they can improve employee retention rates.)
Remember: there are no rules to how you make your employee handbook. You could make it a coloring book, a digital game, or a beautiful publication the employee will be proud to display. The important thing is that it is effective at communicating what you need new hires to know about your company.
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