Go Beyond Policy for an Amazing Employee Handbook
When clients come to us about creating an employee handbook, we find there is always a tendency to focus on policy and procedure. While your social media policy or emergency exit procedures may be important, they can also be a bit of a mood-killer for a new employee. It’s great information, but by neglecting to talk about some of the softer company elements, employers are missing out on a great opportunity to really kick things off in high gear.
Think about it – your employee handbook is often the first touchpoint with a new employee. (It shouldn’t be, but that’s for another article…) On the first day, employees are actually still making up their mind about your company. In fact, one third (33%) of employees know whether they will stay with their company long-term after their first week.
Thinking strategically, employers can use their employee handbook as a way to confirm that the new employee has made the RIGHT decision. They shouldn’t wonder if coming on board was a bad decision. So how can employers ensure their handbooks are making the maximum impact?
Make it Unique
The handbook is an opportunity to focus on what makes your company different, and convey some of those softer elements of the organization. For example, showcase fun activities your staff takes part in, or special charity/community events that are important to the team. This doesn’t have to be loud and flashy novelty items like ping-pong tables and a company coffee cart. Keeping things simple, but honest can go a long way. What are your values? What makes your company stand out from others in the same industry? This employee chose to work with you for a reason–so own it.
Make it Visual
Focus on visual content and put an emphasis on storytelling with pictures. The need for visual content is only getting stronger. In the digital world, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without. Just because you have a “captive audience” in a new employee doesn’t mean you should torture them with endless pages of text-heavy policy. Not only will information retention be higher with a visual handbook, but the learning process will be a lot easier.
Make it Brief
Yes, you need to get into all the nitty-gritty policy details, and you will. Think about including policies in their own section while leading and finishing with the inspirational and motivational elements. Policies are written by lawyers to protect the company from liability, but if your goal is to educate the new employee about their responsibilities and expectations, there are better ways to communicate. Having a safety policy doesn’t guarantee your employees will be safe. Showcasing a culture of uncompromising commitment to safety in all your materials will have a bigger impact.
By focusing on the culture of your organization and ensuring your handbook includes not just the details, but a “vivid picture” of your organization, you’ll hold your new employee’s attention and further support their decision to come work for you.