The staff handbook: pulling it all together

As a staff handbook can contain elements of an employee’s contract, it is important to make it meaningful and accessible. A staff handbook tells existing and new employees ‘how things are done around here’. As well as containing company policies, it also provides useful information, especially for newcomers.

It is important to make sure it is written in plain English – new employees won’t have had time to learn company jargon!

 Make sure it is updated frequently – use a format that makes this easy to achieve

• electronic versions are easy to keep up-to-date and using the organisation’s intranet means it can also be interactive

• a printed, loose leaf binder is a better format in organisations where not everyone is always online

• both of these options make it easier to personalise the handbook.

2  Start with a welcome note

ask the CEO or a director to write a short welcome where there is a head of personnel or HR, they may also provide an introduction.

Talk about the organisation

• the history of the organisation

• what it does

• its mission, vision and strategy.

Include your policies

• for example absence; health and safety; drugs and alcohol; use of company phones, email and internet; diversity; data protection; security; flexible working; acceptance of gifts

• make sure it complies with the law of the land – e.g. an English language policy handbook may not be legally binding in another country where any document that forms part of a contract will have to be in the language of that country.

Personalise it

• pay and pension details

• hours of working

• line of sight or organisational diagram, how the role fits into the overall business objectives

• dress code

• personal property in the workplace.