Tips for Creating Employee Handbooks

Adriane Harrison, Human Relations Specialist, Printing Industries of America, offers tips for creating employee handbooks.

Employee handbooks are an important way to communicate policies and procedures within the company. Whether starting from scratch or revising an existing manual, the following are some quick tips for creating an effective handbook:

  1. Update your handbook at least every two or three years. An annual check is probably a prudent idea with the rapid changes to labor and employment laws and regulations.
  2. Date the handbook. If you revise a particular section in between complete handbook updates, note the date that the section was revised. Make sure employees are made aware of the revision by email or posting it on a bulletin board in the lunchroom.
  3. Don’t be afraid to supplement the handbook between updates. If the company adopts a new policy, then go ahead and add it to the handbook with a date to indicate when the revision occurred.
  4. Make sure you state that the handbook is not a contract between the company and the employees.
  5. Provide a comprehensive table of contents that includes topics within sections, not just section heads. For instance, not just “Health Benefits,” but subheads for health care, dental, vision, life, and the rest of the offerings. The book should be easy to use and the table of contents goes far to making that happen.
  6. Make the handbook available both printed and electronically. If someone is having a family crisis and wants to check the policies, electronic versions are helpful for remote access.
  7. Verify all policies conform to current laws and regulations. Local and state laws sometimes differ from federal laws. Let your legal department or a professional handbook service review it for accuracy.
  8. Be sure to include policies addressing social media and technology use.
  9. Take a clear position on important issues such as anti-harassment, drug and alcohol use, and dress code.
  10. Read it out loud. If it sounds strange when you are saying the words, rewrite that section to make it easily understood.

PIA offers handbook review at a reasonable cost. Contact Adriane Harrison at for more information.