How to Write an Engaging and Effective Employee Handbook


Your company’s employee handbook is one of the most important documents it will publish, and it’s also one of the easiest to get wrong. Seemingly small issues such as poor wording can have serious legal ramifications in the event of a serious dispute.

Likewise, a lack of information can cause your employees to misunderstand what your company culture is all about. From compensation to scheduling, an employee handbook should clearly outline all of the details your employees need to know.

From having an experienced lawyer review your handbook before printing it and distributing it to employees to defining your company’s work schedule, read on to learn seven practical tips for writing an engaging and effective employee handbook.

Outline compensation, benefits and other payment details. 

Your employees need to know exactly when they’ll be paid, how they’ll be paid and the benefits that they can expect as a member of your company’s staff. Outline all of your company’s compensation-related topics in your employee handbook.

This is important not just to clearly outline to your employees how they’ll be paid for their work, but to make sure your business has a clear record of payment and compensation policies that can be used in the event of a dispute with staff.

Include a clear code of conduct for employees to follow. 

Does your company have a dress code? How about expectations for employees to arrive at work at a certain time? Including a code of conduct in your handbook is a good way to make sure employees are aware of your company’s major rules.

Your company code of conduct should cover all relevant aspects of your company’s rules, from expectations regarding overtime to policies regarding changing shifts or work schedule that employees need to know about.

Define your company’s work schedule and workweek. 

One of the most common mistakes companies make in their employee handbooks is defining their workweek as beginning on Monday and ending on Friday. This is, for the most part, accurate, but it can lead to issues if you need staff to work overtime.

In addition to outlining your workweek as Monday to Sunday, giving your company breathing room in the event that you need staff to work on the weekend at a certain point, your handbook should also outline your employee leave policies.

Make your company’s disciplinary policy extremely clear. 

What will your company do in the event of employee misconduct? It’s important to clearly communicate your company’s disciplinary policy to employees, even if you don’t expect to have to enforce it often.

Use clear language that makes the disciplinary process crystal clear, but don’t lock your company into a specific course of action in the event that an employee makes a mistake or fails to live up to your code of conduct.

Don’t write an epic – keep it short enough to read easily. 

The best employee handbooks are long enough to clearly cover all of the topics that are relevant to your business, yet short enough that they’re not impossible for most staff members to read before commencing their employment.

Overly long and dry employee handbooks can be difficult to get through, especially if they’re full of dense writing. Make sure your employee handbook doesn’t leave any key information out, but don’t feel you need to write a 500-page epic either.

Outline your company’s process for resolving conflict. 

How will your company respond if an employee has a dispute with another member of staff? Employees need to know that their concerns will be taken seriously by their employer, and this should definitely be something you cover in your handbook.

Outlining your company’s process for resolving conflict and disputes not only makes the process clear for employees – it also gives them peace of mind that you will give their issues the attention they deserve in the event that problems emerge.

Before you print, ask a lawyer to double-check your handbook. 

Your employee handbook is a document that outlines key information that members of staff should be aware of, but it’s also an important legal document that can appear in the event of a serious dispute with an employee.

Before you print your employee handbook, have it reviewed by an experienced and capable lawyer to make sure there are no phrases, word choices or statements that could potentially affect your business in the event of litigation.