Overview – Employee handbooks

Employee handbooks, also referred to as employee manuals or staff handbooks, articulate what an employee can expect from the organisation, and what the organisation expects from an employee. Employee handbooks are presented to employees on their first days at work, usually in conjunction with attendance at an induction session.

Employee handbooks detail the policies and procedures by which an employee must abide. Clear articulation of these policies and procedures assists leaders in applying them correctly and fairly, and assists employees in meeting those requirements. Some companies run annual refresher courses on critically important handbook policies. Carefully written policies with simple language and layout demonstrate, through clarity of meaning, an employer’s commitment to a positive work environment and non-discriminatory work practices. Poorly drafted policies may cause infringements due to misunderstanding or confusion about what was meant.

Grey TickThis tactic is useful for:


Communicating essential information that articulates expected behaviours and non-negotiable requirements.
Reinforcing desired behaviours when integrated with performance appraisals.
Illustrating commitment to a positive work environment.
Including with induction packs.

cloudyThings to consider:


Determine key sections of the employee handbook, which may include:
– A ‘Welcome’ statement from the CEO with a brief overview of the organisation’s purpose, the reasons for its success, and how employees contribute to that success.
– The organisation’s mission statement, its goals and objectives.
– The organisation’s values: defining what they are and the associated behaviours.
– Code of Ethics / Code of Conduct.
– Compliance matters.
– Whistleblower hotline.
– Organisational policies and procedures.
– Forms: what they are and where to find them.
Provide a hard-copy for ready-reference and a soft-copy on the intranet for quick information retrieval.

Tone BulbHelpful tip:


Verify if the Code of Conduct policies included in the handbook require employees’ signatures to confirm they have read and will abode by the requirements. This may include Code of Conduct policies relating to confidential information, use of email and the internet (including social media sites), and alcohol and drug use. Ensure the handbook format accommodates this need by providing a record for both management and employee.
Category: Print