The small business owner’s guide to writing a great employee handbook
The hiring process is a long-winded thing. No matter how efficient you are, you’re going to have to sit down and write an employee handbook for your new hires eventually. This guide should help any small business owner through the process (but we recommend you consult a lawyer or HR advisor too!)
Every single employee you take on will read your handbook, so it’s a good idea to spend some time on it. It’s a vital part of the onboarding process, but it doesn’t have to be a novel.
Done right, your employee handbook can be succinct, engaging and useful.
Things to remember
- It’s not set in stone: as long as it’s digital, you can easily go back to your employee handbook and change things as your business develops.
- It doesn’t have to be boring: when you think of an employee handbook, you probably don’t think of something fun to read. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Feel free to add some humour and write it in your own voice.
- It doesn’t have to be long: remember that your employees will actually have to read this thing. Try to make it as painless as possible.
- But it is a legal document: so triple-check it yourself before passing it onto a lawyer or HR advisor. Only then pass it onto your new employees.
Things to include
1 – Welcome message
- If someone’s reading your handbook, they’ve just been hired at your company. So say hi! Give them a warm written welcome, introduce yourself and make them feel at ease.
- Add a handy contents page and advice for their first day. It’s only polite!
2 – The fun part
- You should probably let your new hire know all about your company. Tell them how it started, who your audience is and what problems you’re trying to solve. This should be the easiest part to write so put your heart in it!
- Let them know about your dreams for the company and how they’re important to its success.
- If you already have a few people on your team, include details about company structure too.
3 – The details
- What about the nitty-gritty details of working for you? When can they expect to be paid? What are your policies? Include any general info that’s the same no matter who you hire, things like expenses, probationary periods and disciplinary action processes.
- Let your new employees know about your health and safety measures, dress code and social media policy too.
4 – The boring bit
- We had to get there eventually… so what are your legal policies? What happens if there’s a robbery? What about copyright?
- Now onto your code of conduct and any harassment or workplace behaviour policies.
This is the section to go over with a lawyer.
Once you’ve written your first draft, treat yourself. Writing an employee handbook is a hefty task.
Next we recommed leaving your handbook unopened for a few days. This way, when you come back to it you’ll have fresh eyes and new ideas. Read it aloud to make sure that your language is easy to read.
Finally, pass it onto someone you trust – a lawyer, HR advisor, a good friend – and get as many eyes on it as possible. Once you’re happy, hand it over to your new hires and be done with it.
Now that you’ve used this guide to write your employee handbook, you’re ready to hire. If you’re looking to grow your small business, check out DigitalGrads. As you can probably tell, we’re passionate about making hiring easy. Simply make your account, post your job description and watch your applicants pool in. We’ll handle everything else.