Let’s be honest, most handbooks are boring. They are lengthy documents that are normally read once and then hidden away or left on a shelf gathering dust.

As an employer you want your employees to be aware of and ideally reviewing this information. Otherwise how are your employees going to know what standards and rules are in place or what policies and procedures they should be following.

You also want to make sure your handbook is up to date – as you don’t want employees following ‘old’ rules or policies! And if you do make changes or introduce new rules or polices you need to make sure employees are aware of them (i.e., they are clearly communicated to them) otherwise you cannot rely on them.

Welcome the Employee and Tell them about the Company – State the reason why your employees come to your workplace everyday rather than to someone else’s. Tell them what you do, about your values, your vision & mission etc. Set the framework for the rest of your policies and procedures and state the goals you are working towards.

Language and order -Make sure your handbook is written in plain English and in a style that is easy to read. You should also consider the order of your handbook. Make it logical and don’t start with your disciplinary procedure (yes, I have seen this)!

Brand it and Present it well – A well branded employee handbook can communicate to employees (and potential employees) that the company takes HR seriously and is a responsible employer. It also says you value your employees. If you have a glossy brochure for clients and prospects, but give your employees a scruffy photo-copy of your handbook – what message does this send?

Keep it up to date – Keeping your handbook up to date will not only ensure you are operating in line with current legislation or working practices, it will also make employee’s more interest if they are receiving updates. It will let them know that it is a ‘live’ document and relevant to their employment. 

Ditch the paper – The majority of individuals are ‘online’ in some shape or form, so why not leave the paper handbook behind and move over to an online equivalent. But if you do go-online, the above still applies. There is no point just having a list of policies on a shared drive that are written like a technical manual. Done properly, taking your handbook online has many benefits and if this is of interest take a look at  This provides an HR portal where all employees can access the information they need, with documents set out on ‘web’ pages with images and links to related information. is also kept up to date for you and any changes communicated to employees.  

Paula Fisher.

You can contact Paula on

If you feel that you need guidance or advice on this matter, please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email Paula on the above.