Employee Handbooks: Some Important Considerations

It’s important to know what should be included in an employee handbook or company manual. There are three factors to consider.

First, you need a legal component that dictates certain policies, which can vary by state. Federal laws apply to everyone but vary based on the size of the company. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a good example. Others apply by industry, such as certain safety standard laws.

Second, include elements that apply specifically to your company. These are the organizational components that help define and shape the behaviors within your business.

Third, provide information employees need to know, such as benefits, that don’t necessarily fall into the above categories.

Write policies in a tone that reflects your brand. I’ve seen friendly, flexible companies produce manuals that offended their employees. That usually happens because lawyers write it instead of writers. The result can read like a contract and starts the employment relationship off with an adversarial attitude. Better to get the laws down correctly and then have someone who understands the company (and does not write in legalese) prepare the manual in a gracious voice.

I’ve outlined a basic template with five headings that can help you organize a manual. The order is up to you. Arrange them in a way that makes sense for your company.