Time To End The Impractical Employee Manuals

A boring succession of political and empty phrases about the mission of the company… The employee handbook should reflect the company’s culture and flavour as a way of enticing a new employee to want to be part of the organization. Here's how to do it.

The primary purpose of the employee handbook is to protect the company from a legal point of view by presenting its policies and internal rules. However, the truth is that for many people, reading it simply means turning page after page and pushing countless yawns.

Here are four strategies to tempt employees to reading the document.

Present the most attractive information on top

Just as in newspapers or any other form of content, the title plays a major role in giving the reader a desire to learn more. Nothing is less sexy than ‘Employee Handbook.’

“You can always jazz up your title by saying something like ‘Your adventure at X’,” says Mélanie Foley, a human resources consultant to Solertia.

Moreover, the first few paragraphs should focus on what makes the organization attractive: free coffee, cappuccino maker, corporate discounts, pool table, happy hour, etc.

“We can thus mention right off the bat that the employee was chosen from an X number of candidates and continue with what the company can do for him or her,” she adds.

Show your colours

After reading the guide, the employee should be able to understand the true nature of the business. This should be reflected in particular in the mission statement, motivating employees to get up every morning to go to work.

Policies should also be customized and adopt the same tone that is taken to communicate with staff every day and reveal their raison d'être.

The form is also important. “If our logo is orange and gray, these colours should be used in the document, otherwise we give the impression of having copy/pasted a document model from the Internet,” says Foley. “Moreover, we must regularly review its contents to ensure it is well suited to employees’ reality.”

Content: different presentation techniques

Either a paper and electronic document is necessary for employees to refer to it as needed. However, nobody said that some parts of the document could not take other forms.

The president's message could be recorded and sent to employees. Video testimonials can be added to the company's website.

“Information can be segmented into modules to represent the course of an employee in a company, for example, a portrait of a first day or things to know after three months in the business,” says the human resources consultant. That way, we can get ahead and inform the employee of the aspects to know before coming into the office, like how to dress, where the cafeteria is, etc.

The same goes for how the document will be transmitted. “Rather than receiving the guide via email, you can send the employee a USB stick with a welcome card and a photo of the team prior to their first day,” she suggests.

Collaborate with others on the content

Some people in business are better than others when it comes to writing engaging content. This is often the case with people in marketing or communications.

“It is also wise to ask other employees what information they lacked when they started out and what they want to read,” states Mélanie Foley. “Team managers can also be a little more hands-on by adding their own passages.”

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