A company handbook is crucial for a small business to stay legally compliant. However, a handbook should be more than a collection of policies. Instead, a modern living handbook is the first step in codifying your company's unique culture.
This article covers:
What is a company handbook
The benefits a handbook offers
How to start the process of creating your own employee handbook.
What is a handbook
A handbook (otherwise known as an employee handbook, employee manual, a company handbook or a staff handbook) is a written document that companies provide to employees setting out their policies, procedures, rules and other important information and practices at the company.
The employee handbook is often one of the first things a new starter will receive when they first join a company. It should serve as a valuable introduction to how a new company operates, and can answer many of the questions you may have as a new team member. However, a handbook should not be seen as only relevant for new starters - the best handbooks are referred to on an ongoing basis by existing employees as well.
What should a handbook contain
Great handbooks reflect who you are and where you want to go as a company. To be impactful your handbook needs to be tailored to the specifics of your business and update, evolve and adapt with your team and your business as unexpected events are thrown at you.
Although a company handbook should be tailored to your specific business, generally speaking, they usually contain three kinds of information:
Company policies. Different companies have different expectations of their employees – this is place to detail these.
‘Ways of working’. Every company does its work differently – a company handbook is a great place to set out exactly how your organisation runs. This can include information on any flexible or remote working policies, or information on career progression within your company.
Culture. This could include a welcome message from the team, a statement on the company mission, an introduction to the company culture.
Above all, a great handbook needs to be clear and easy for your team to understand.
What are the benefits of an employee handbook?
An employee handbook can cover a range of topics, with the benefits it offers falling into two main areas:
1. Ensuring your business is legally compliant
UK employment law requires every business to have three specific HR policies on file. Those three policies are:
A Health and Safety policy
A Grievance policy
This applies to all businesses registered in the UK, however small or recently founded. You can our guidance on crafting these three policies here
2. Codifying your company culture
A good handbook can do more than outline policies and working practices. Instead, it can be a place to tell the story of your business you want new starters to know. Your handbook can codify your company values, mission and how your approach to work.
Beyond these important concepts, a great company handbook also outlines the specifics of how your company builds its culture. From your remote work policy designed to give your team the flexibility they desire to your company's approach to mental health or what you offer, each decision made impacts your company culture. In order to maintain and grow this culture, it's essential to be codified.
How to create an employee handbook
You can create an employee handbook from scratch - there are definitely no shortage of resources and templates online, including on Charlie's Workplace blog. For these to be legally watertight, they would need to be retrofitted to fit your business, which can be a long and time consuming process.
This is where HR Advice steps in. With HR Advice, our advisors will make absolutely sure your handbook is fully compliant and serves as a representation of your company culture, tailored to your tone and brand.
Interested in a free consultation? Book a call here
Storing an handbook
Information is only ever useful when it’s easy to find and clear to understand – which is why we’ve made it possible to store your employee handbook directly inside Charlie. Not only is this super easy for your current team to access, but it makes onboarding a breeze, especially remotely!
Ready to get started? Read how to upload your handbook here