employee handbook

clock January 13, 2023

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How to Create an Employee Handbook: What Should It Include?

Nearly 54% of recruiters plan to combine in-person and remote onboarding. When onboarding new employees, sharing the employee handbook is an important part of this process. This is because it contains crucial information that helps the new employee integrate properly into your company.

It helps them familiarize themselves with your company’s policies and procedures. This way you can run a more effective organization without the risk of breaking federal or state laws. Below we’ll explore why you need an employee handbook, what to include, and how to create one.

What is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is a staff manual that outlines the policies, procedures, and expectations of your company. It serves as a reference guide for employees.

The manual provides them with information about their rights and responsibilities. It also highlights the expectations and guidelines for behavior and performance in the workplace.

The document can also include information on topics such as company culture, disciplinary actions, and more. It can also highlight your company’s mission, values, and goals.

Employee handbooks can vary in length and content depending on the size and nature of your organization. You can’t just copy another company’s handbook and give it to your employees.

As an employer, you can create a shorter, more general employee handbook. You can also opt for a more comprehensive document.

What is Included in an Employee Handbook?

Your organization’s employee handbook should be unique to your company. However, most employee handbooks will contain descriptions of the following kind.


This section provides an overview of the purpose and scope of the handbook. It may include information on how to use the handbook. What’s more, it can highlight how it’s intended to benefit employees.

Company Culture and Values

For your company to be successful, your employees have to be in alignment with your mission and goals. That’s why you need to include a section that describes the company’s mission, vision, and values in your handbook. It should also outline expectations for employee behavior and conduct.

Employment Policies and Procedures

Employment policies and procedures are guidelines of a company. They ensure that employees understand their rights and responsibilities. Here are some common guidelines included in an employee handbook:

  • Hiring and promotion policies
  • Job responsibilities
  • Meal and rest breaks
  • Attendance and punctuality
  • Full-time vs. part-time employment hours
  • Performance evaluations
  • Dress code
  • Communication
  • Use of company resources
  • Payment schedule
  • Overtime pay
  • Leaves of absence

Performance Expectations

Performance expectations are the specific responsibilities and tasks assigned to an employee. These expectations should be communicated to employees. That’s why you should include them in an employee handbook.

It contains information about the organization’s expectations for employee behavior and performance. The section may also include performance review processes.

Benefits and Compensation

Communicating the competitive benefits you offer can help you attract new talent. What’s more, you can retain your employees. This section in your staff handbook should include components like:

  • The types of benefits available to employees such as health insurance and retirement plans
  • Information on how to enroll in and use the benefits offered by the company
  • A description of the company’s compensation policies
  • Information on any other compensation programs, such as bonuses or commission plans
  • A process for reviewing and updating the benefits and compensation packages offered by the company

Professional Development

Professional development refers to activities that help employees improve their skills. If you offer professional development opportunities to your employees, you can include them in your employee handbook.

This may include information about training and development opportunities. It can also outline guidelines for career advancement.

Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Laws

There are several federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace. As an employer, it’s important to include these policies in your employee handbook.

At the federal level, some of the key laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Forbids discrimination founded on color, race, sex, national origin, or religion
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): Outlaws discrimination based on age (people that are 40 or older)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Forbids discrimination grounded on disability
  • The Equal Pay Act: Requires that men and women be paid equally for performing the same job
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA): Forbids discrimination based on genetic information

At the state level, there may be additional laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Ensure you add them to your employee manual.

Workplace Safety and Health

Workplace safety and health are important considerations for any company. That’s why you should address it in your employee handbook.

It outlines the company’s policies for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. The section also highlights any necessary safety training needed.

Employee Conduct and Discipline

Your handbook should have employee conduct and discipline topics. This unit summarizes the company’s expectations for employee behavior. It can include:

  • A statement of the company’s values and expectations for employee behavior
  • A list of unacceptable behaviors, such as harassment, discrimination, or violence
  • A process for reporting misconduct or policy violations
  • A list of potential consequences for misconduct, such as verbal warning, suspension, or more
  • A process for appealing disciplinary action

Termination and Severance

It describes the circumstances under which an employee’s job may be terminated. The section can also outline any severance benefits that may be available.

Non-Disclosure Agreement or Conflict of Interest

Not every company includes this section, but NDAs and conflict of interest policies can be important for companies that operate in highly competitive industries.

If you are in such an industry, you can include these policies in your employee handbook. It can help protect your sensitive information and the avoidance of conflicts of interest.

Other Relevant Information

Depending on the organization, the employee handbook may also contain extra information. It can include social media policies and other relevant topics.


Include the disclaimer to clarify the limitations of your employee handbook. Make it clear that the handbook is not a legally binding contract. If your employees treat your handbook like a contractual agreement, they can sue you in case you don’t uphold the policies within the handbook.

Use the disclaimer to state that the handbook isn’t a contractual obligation between your company and employees.

How to Create an Employee Handbook

Do you need an employee handbook? A handbook can help you and your employees share the same company vision. Here are some steps you can follow to create it:

Step 1: Determine Your Goals

Before you start writing your employee handbook, think about what you want to achieve with it. Whether it’s to clarify policies or prevent legal liability, your goals will help guide the content and tone of your employee handbook.

Step 2: Gather Relevant Information

Next, collect all the information you need to add to your employee handbook. This may include policies and procedures, company values, and more.

Remember to consult with relevant stakeholders, such as human resources, management, and legal counsel. They will help you gather input on what should be included in your handbook.

Step 3: Organize the Information

Once you gather all the relevant information, organize it in a logical and easy-to-follow manner. Consider using headings and subheadings to help structure the content.

Step 4: Write the Employee Handbook

Start writing your employee handbook. Make sure you keep in mind your goals and the needs of your employees. Use clear and concise language to avoid confusing employees.

Step 5: Review and Revise

After writing the employee handbook, review it carefully. Ensure it is accurate and complete.

Ask a lawyer to review it. They will help you figure out if it complies with all relevant laws and regulations.

Also, consider getting feedback from other employees. It helps you gauge if the language is clear and easy to understand.

Step 6: Roll Out the Employee Handbook

Once your employee handbook is complete, make sure that all employees have a copy. They should also be able to understand its contents. Consider holding a training session to go over the handbook and answer any questions that employees may have.

Benefits of Having an Employee Handbook

Creating an employee handbook for your company can be a daunting task. But having one brings many benefits. Here are some reasons why your company needs an employee handbook:

Clarifies Company Expectations

An employee handbook can outline the specific duties and responsibilities associated with each job role. This can help employees to understand their role within the organization and how they contribute to its success.

It can also help to ensure that employees are aware of any performance or behavior expectations that the company has for them. Clear guidelines can help reduce conflicts. Additionally, it ensures that all employees are working towards the same goals.

Establishes a Fair and Consistent Work Environment

An employee handbook ensures that policies and procedures are consistently applied to all employees. This can help create a fair and consistent work environment, where everyone is held to the same standards and expectations.

Offers Legal Protection

You can use an employee handbook to protect your organization from legal action. The policies ensure compliance with laws and regulations.

For instance, if your employee handbook includes a policy against harassment and discrimination, you can take steps to prevent and address such incidents. As a result, you can reduce the risk of legal liability.

Additionally, an employee handbook provides employees with information about their rights and responsibilities. They have a right to a safe and healthy work environment and a responsibility to report any concerns they may have. This can help create a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

Promotes Employee Engagement

When an employee handbook describes opportunities for professional development, it can promote positive company culture.

Stating your company’s values and goals can create a sense of shared purpose among employees. This helps to increase their engagement and motivation.

You can also foster a culture of growth. As a result, you can retain and attract top talent.

Helps to Onboard New Employees

Your employee handbook can serve as a useful resource for new hires. It helps them to understand the culture and expectations of your organization and get up to speed fast.

By highlighting the company’s policies, new employees can understand how your organization operates. It can also provide them with the information they need to be successful in their role.

Additionally, an employee handbook can help new employees to understand the expectations for behavior and performance. It also helps them to feel more connected to the organization. You can use it to make your employees feel more confident and supported as they transition into their new roles.

Enhances Communication

The employee handbook provides a reference guide. If your employees have questions and concerns, they can turn to it for answers. This can help improve communication between management and employees.

When you highlight your company’s goals and ideas well, it makes each employee aware of the expectations and guidelines for their role.

What’s more, the document can act as a central point of information for employees. As a result, it can improve communication. It also reduces the need for multiple conversations about the same topic.

Strengthens Company Culture

Having an employee handbook is ideal since it outlines the expectations for employees. This helps to reinforce the company’s values and culture.

Boost Productivity with a Comprehensive Employee Handbook

An employee handbook keeps all company policies and procedures in a central place. This can be important if an employee breaks any company policies or if legal questions arise.

At wesellworkerscomp.com, we offer access to superior programs for companies to develop. Get in touch with us and let us share some examples of employee handbooks to help with your company’s development.

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