Your employee handbook should be your most comprehensive employee-facing document. It needs to contain all the information employees might need to abide by your policies, make challenging decisions, and explore their benefits and options.
But with all the information you could include, how do you know what’s most important? Check out these seven key components to include in your employee handbook.
Company Mission, Vision, and Values
Include your mission, vision, and values in the employee handbook to provide employees with a clear understanding of the company’s purpose and goals. This will help to ensure that everyone works toward the same shared objectives.
For example, Patagonia’s mission statement and core values aren’t just passive words on a page. They’re meant to be lived by every person in the company. Employees need to know exactly why the organization exists and prioritizes what it does, and your employee handbook is a great place to lay that out.
Workplace Policies and Procedures
Include your policies and procedures in an employee handbook by outlining the rules and expectations in clear, concise language and providing any relevant documents or links for further reference. Make sure to review and update your policies and procedures regularly.
The number of policies and procedures in a large, global company may feel restrictive to a new employee coming from a less structured environment, for example. But your handbook can explain that they exist not to be punitive but to maintain consistent best practices across locations.
Employee Benefits and Compensation
Include information about paid time off (such as vacation time and parental leave), health care offerings, retirement plans, and other compensation-related information. In the interests of pay transparency, it can be helpful to explain some of the reasoning behind pay decisions in your handbook.
Code of Conduct
You can include your code of conduct in an employee handbook by clearly stating the rules and expectations of behavior for employees and making it easily accessible to all staff members. Additionally, you should ensure that all employees are aware of and agree to the code of conduct.
As an industry, for example, healthcare is fraught with potential ethical challenges. A robust, accessible code of conduct can help employees make challenging decisions on the floor, in keeping with your company values.
Health and Safety Measures
An employee handbook should clearly outline health and safety measures to ensure that employees know the correct procedures to follow in the workplace. This can include details about the use of protective equipment, hazardous materials, emergency procedures, and any other relevant safety information as well as notice of relevant employment laws, such as OSHA regulations in the U.S.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies
Include a section in the employee handbook dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and programs, which should outline the company’s commitment to these values and how they’re implemented and enforced. Make sure to provide resources and information for employees to learn more about DEI issues as well as contact information for DEI resources within the company.
If you have employee resource groups, for example, list each of them and their purpose in your handbook so employees can decide which, if any, is the best fit for them.
Disclaimer and Acknowledgement Form
Include a section in the employee handbook for both a disclaimer and an acknowledgement form. Employees should sign and date each form to confirm that they’ve read, understood, and agree to the terms of the employment relationship set forth in the document.