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An employee handbook is a comprehensive guide for employees, informing them about a company’s policies, procedures, and practices. Also called a staff manual or employee field guide, employee handbooks are typically distributed to new hires on their first day to help them understand how to start their job. However, employee handbooks can also serve as a great reference tool for existing employees, as they can be adapted and modified as a company progresses.
Employee handbooks cover a wide range of policies and practices, such as behavioral expectations, how to use company equipment, promotion policies, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) policies. Overall, employee handbooks are an all-encompassing written document that details the many moving parts within a company.
An employee handbook is an extensive document that details a wide range of company policies, practices, and procedures. Many components can make up an employee handbook, such as:
Overall, employee handbooks contain a comprehensive list of policies, procedures, and practices. While these can vary from company to company, they serve as a general outline for components that should be included in an employee handbook.
Employee handbooks serve several purposes for both employees and employers. One of the main benefits for both parties is that employee handbooks can help reduce conflict and offer guidance to solve employee or cultural issues within the company. Below are more benefits that make great reasons why a company should create an employee handbook.
First and foremost, an employee handbook is designed to help employees understand a company’s culture, policies, procedures, and practices to ensure they’re getting the job done. However, this isn’t the only reason why employees benefit from an employee handbook. Some additional benefits include:
While creating an employee handbook might seem overwhelming at first, doing so can help mitigate any issues in the long run. The main benefit of an employee handbook for employers is that it keeps all company procedures and policies in one place, making them easy to enforce and refer back to, especially if an employee breaks one of these procedures or policies. Employer handbooks also:
Most employees expect to read and sign an employee handbook during their onboarding process. However, the Federal Department of Labor doesn’t legally require employers to create an employee handbook. Instead, employers must inform employees about their rights, which can take many forms, such as a posted workplace sign or other document. However, an employee handbook can serve as a great way to keep an employee’s legal rights along with any other additional company policies in one place. Some federal labor laws to reference in an employee handbook include:
In addition to federal labor laws, state labor laws might need to be included, which can become complicated if a company employs workers in multiple states. In this case, a best practice is to provide a location-specific section in an employee handbook that details any applicable state laws.
In most cases, employers will require their staff to read the employee handbook and sign a statement agreeing that they read the document and will abide by the contents within. Employee handbooks also have a disclaimer, which lets employees know the employee handbook is a set of guidelines and policies, not a formal contract, which means the employer can change any policies and procedures at any time.
Employers should review their employee handbook at least once a year to make any necessary changes, revisions, and updates. Doing so can help ensure the employee handbook is up to date with any state and federal laws, as well as new company policies and procedures. Having an outdated employee handbook can cause a wide range of problems, such as confusion among employees, policies that aren’t legally compliant, and difficulty onboarding new hires.
Employee handbook updates should be made whenever significant changes are made, such as when a new product or service is introduced, there’s a location change, or new job roles are added within the company. Keeping an employee handbook current is not only professional but can help employees answer certain questions without having to go to HR or their manager and can prevent false information from spreading around the company.
Creating an employee handbook is a great way to keep employees updated on any company policies and procedures. Below are the steps on how to create an employee handbook: