How to improve on boring employee handbooks

Your employee handbook is the first document a new employee will receive, so surely you want to make sure it’s a good one? Ditch the boring, corporate approach 😴 and start creating a handbook that your staff will actually want to read. Not sure how? Read our top tips below 👇


Be clear on who you are and why you’re different

If you’re not telling your staff what’s different about your company and why you’re great, then your handbook will end up looking like everyone else’s. You need to get clear on what your company’s values and goals are, and communicate these in an inspirational way.

A great way to do this is with a cartoon storyboard. Create a scenario of when your values would come into play and why they are so important in helping you achieve your overall company goals.


Adopt a casual tone

So many companies talk like corporate robots in their employee handbooks 🤖, which immediately makes them un-engaging and a chore to read! Instead, use informal language and adopt a chatty tone.

For example, rather than saying our company values are communication, integrity, and excellence; you could say “We expect you’re wondering how we’ve created such a top-notch company culture? We’ll let you into a secret, just simply follow these guidelines. Never be afraid to speak out, we love big talkers here at X. Always remember honesty is the best policy and you’ll get along just fine. Finally, strive to be awesome every day and create work you can be proud of.”


Rethink your titles

Firstly, don’t call it an “Employee handbook” 🙄 as this immediately sounds like it’s going to be long and boring. Instead, think of something like “Get clued up on how we work”, “Our how-to guide”, “Your ultimate guide to (Oplift)”, or “Your helping hand.”

Secondly, make your policy or procedure titles more interesting. A great example is Netflix’s “no-brilliant-jerks policy” about how they won’t tolerate people who act like jerks. Another example could be a “sickness absence policy” changed to “When you’re feeling under the weather policy.”


Show your people

People like looking at people, so make sure you include photos of your team in action and demonstrating the points that you are making. This will bring your handbook to life and make it seem more ‘real’ to your new hire.


Highlight your benefits

We all know how boring it can be to listen to someone go on and on about themselves and it’s exactly the same with your handbook. You list the expectations you have for your new hires, then have a section buried about what’s in it for them. Bring these as far to the front as you can, so your new hires know that you’re serious about rewarding them for their efforts 🏆. Include all perks, even ones that you may think aren’t that important, because they may be very important to someone else. For example, you may think that employee training is expected nowadays and so you don’t include it as one of your perks. However, this is a vital selling point for some employees, as a lack of development is one of the main reasons staff leave their role. You should say “We are always looking for ways in which you can develop yourself professionally, which is why we invest heavily in employee training.”


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

How to write your internal comms like a journalist

5 creative ways to get staff engaged with policies or procedures

5 types of posts your staff love to share

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 29th August 2018