How do I make an employee handbook?

A good employee handbook can help protect you from possible liability while keeping your employees excited to come to work. It helps everyone get on the same page about what they need to do and how they need to do it. Whenever they have a question about a work-related policy, they should be able to turn to their handy handbook for an answer.

Step one: Intro

Talk about your company’s history, mission, and values, or any other color that will bring your handbook to life.

Step two: The basics

Before you begin, check out your state’s labor website to give you a rundown of all the policies you need to address from the get-go. It's also smart to consult your CPA and legal counsel to make sure your handbook is in good shape. Some things to cover include: 

  1. Workplace Safety
  2. Anti-discrimination policies
  3. Code of conduct
  4. Compensation
  5. Performance review logistics
  6. Overview of the benefits you offer
  7. EEligibility requirements for benefits
  8. PTO policy
  9. Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
  10. Conflicts of interest statement

Step three: Team specific details

Once you make it through the majority of items above, pepper in anything else that matters. These can include things like flexible work arrangements, social media policies, parking, cell phone usage, your dress code, and any of the other factors that are important to your team.

Step four: Get sign-off

Once you have a draft of your handbook, run it up the HR flagpole and get it in front of a lawyer so you can be extra sure you’re not missing anything crucial. Then it’ll be time to get your employees’ signatures. The final page of your handbook should be an acknowledgement form that employees sign to signal their understanding and access to your policies.

Step five: Keep it up to date

Employment laws frequently change, so you’ll need to stay on the ball to make sure your handbook is written to address new laws. That means having a lawyer or HR consultant review your handbook every six to 12 months. If you do make any changes to your handbook, make sure to have your employees sign new acknowledgement forms. The process of getting their signatures will help draw attention to any changes in your policies, and it can help prove they knew of any changes if you ever wind up in a dispute.


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