Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Meenal Upadhyay with Fit Small Business. Her opinions are her own.
If there was one simple thing you could do to have happier and more productive employees, would you do it?
Having a well-written employee handbook, it turns out, can be a wonderful recruitment and retention tool for your business.
1. A handbook smooths out the on-boarding process
Starting at a new company can be stressful for any employee. Companies that put effort into making the on-boarding process go smoothly are 69% more likely to have new hires stay with the company for three years or more.
The more information and access you give an employee to important details he or she needs to know up front, the easier their transition will be. A handbook helps with that. Not only does that handbook provide all the details a new hire needs to know about company policies, but it should also list resources for quick access should need further down the road.
Consider creating a handbook that is less traditional than the thick word-heavy handbooks of the past. Make yours interactive, with quizzes or images to break up the information and make it easier to digest for new hires. You could also create a digital version that employees can access anywhere and even search to find what they need.
2. An employee handbook communicates corporate culture
Just like a teen’s first days at high school, it can be challenging for a new hire to know how things work and how to fit in at a new company. Company culture plays a large role in how staff thrive or struggle, so it’s important to clearly define your company mission, expectations, and work environment in your handbook.
Realize that a strong company culture makes for more engaged employees, and that your employees want your brand to have one: 88% of employees believe a distinct company culture is important to business success.
If you don’t yet have a strong company culture, create one.
Focus on the proven staples of a solid corporate culture: physical health, emotional wellbeing, mental clarity, and spiritual significance. Having an interesting workplace culture doesn’t have to cost you anything: even letting staff have time to explore their own innovative ideas or blow off some steam over a rousing game of foosball can be enough to engage them.
3. It becomes an employee’s go-to resource
What is your company’s policy about medical marijuana? Working from home? What’s the protocol for filing a sexual harassment complaint? These are questions that a new hire may not have initially, but that someone may have down the road. Your employee handbook should be an easy resource to help any employee find answers to their questions, identify a point of contact for an issue, or provide clarity around what’s expected.
Additionally, your handbook is your opportunity to put the rules in black and white. If you have an employee who is consistently late for work, point to the work hours clearly listed in the handbook, and give them a warning if previous attempts to remedy the situation have been ignored.
When creating your employee handbook, think of it like an encyclopaedia of all information relating to your company.
You might create a condensed version of the critical must-know details at the front of the book for new hires, but go into detail on everything from employee benefits to dress code to leave policies so that your staff’s questions are easily answered without them having to bother your HR manager every time.
4. A handbook can reinforce positive employee morale
Disengaged employees are dangerous. They lack motivation to do more than the basic required work for their roles. They may become disgruntled and look for a job elsewhere. And of course, if they leave, you are left scrambling to fill an empty role.
Employee morale and engagement go hand in hand. When your employees feel appreciated, they work harder, and the overall mood fosters a sense of community and collaboration.
Employee morale must be boosted from every angle: your managers should be commending staff on a job well done, and should make efforts to support employees’ interests in expanding their skillsets.
HR managers should provide ongoing training to ensure that all employees feel confident in using software tools or managing new tasks, or even to expand their experience. And communication is the cornerstone to positive morale: the more your company communicates the fact that each and every employee is a valued member of the team, the more they will feel that way.
Your handbook is just the place to disseminate that message from the start.
Remember your audience when writing your employee handbook. You’re writing it so that it speaks to each individual employee, so use conversational language, not legal lingo. It may take a few drafts to boil it down to just the essentials (remember: the longer it is, the less likely people are to actually consume it all). Have a handful of employees in different departments read and critique the handbook so that you ensure that you’re speaking to staff at every experience level, age, and education background.
All it takes to make happy employees is to keep them at the center of everything you do.
Certainly, you care a great deal about making a profit in your company, but you can’t do that without staff that is enthusiastic about helping your business succeed. Make them feel like they’re invested in your company’s growth, communicate what they need to know in their own language in the handbook, and keep it updated to reflect changing tastes.
Your handbook should be an evolving creature; what works today may be irrelevant in five years (just imagine what the dress code was even five years ago versus the casual wear your staff comes to work in today!). Make a plan to review the handbook every year and make changes where necessary.
It can be helpful to have a committee to oversee the drafting and editing of your employee handbook each year.