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How To Develop Employee Handbook Policies in 2023

Sunday, June 18, 2023

How To Develop Employee Handbook Policies in 2023

According to Gallup, only 6 in 10 employees (60%)[1] clearly understand what's expected of them at work. That's right! A staggering 40% of employees fail to know what their expectations are.

One possible solution? An effective employee handbook.

An employee handbook is a handy document and communication tool that can set your company and its employees up for success if utilized properly. It provides a single source of truth, bringing your employees on the same page regarding company policies and expectations.

But what exactly is an employee handbook, and what's its role in an organization? This comprehensive guide will help you understand what an employee handbook is, what policies to include, and share tips for developing effective employee handbook policies.

What Is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is an organizational document that provides information about the company's policies, practices, and procedures. It's a guide for employees to familiarize themselves with the organizational structure and expectations of their role in it.

The purpose of an employee handbook is twofold.

First, it helps management communicate relevant information efficiently to staff members. Secondly, it allows workers quick access to data they may need while on the job.

Note: Employee handbooks should be regularly reviewed and updated to keep both employers and employees up to date with changes made over time.

Policies To Include in an Employee Handbook

Ambiguity in employee policies can lead to significant issues. For instance, employees may try to find justifications for behavior that falls outside of the company's policies by exploiting loopholes in the employee handbook.

Therefore, a well-crafted employee handbook should provide clear guidance to reinforce an organization's policies. Here are policies that should be included in an employee handbook regardless of the size or type of the company:

  • Equal employment opportunity policy: This policy outlines the company's commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace and prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, religion, age, and disability.
  • Harassment and discrimination policy: This one should summarize the company's zero-tolerance policy for all forms of harassment and discrimination in the workplace and outline how employees should report any such behavior.
  • Workplace safety policy: Covers a company's commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace and specifies the safety rules employees must abide by while on the job.
  • Pay and benefits policy: Highlights a company's pay and benefits structure, including what benefits are available and how and when employees will be paid.
  • Time off policy: Includes the company's guidelines regarding paid time off, unpaid time off, holiday time, and other relevant details.
  • Technology and social media policy: This policy outlines the company's expectations and guidelines for the appropriate use of technology and social media inside and outside the workplace.
  • Workplace conduct policy: Outlines how employees should conduct themselves and the consequences for not meeting these expectations.
  • Performance evaluation policy: The performance evaluation policy covers the company's expectations for employee performance and how and when performance reviews shall be conducted.

Tips for Developing Employee Handbook Policies

In 2023, employers should adapt industry best practices when creating new or revising existing employee handbook policies. This includes focusing on clarity and writing the handbook policies in clear language that all stakeholders can easily understand.

It's also important to ensure your policies support diversity and inclusion initiatives and comply with relevant legislation, such as anti-discrimination laws. We recommend following these approaches when revising or developing employee handbook policies.

  • Identify the purpose and audience for the handbook: This helps ensure you have tailored the handbook to the specific needs of your organization and employees. A good starting point is to align the handbook with the organizational culture and mission so it can be written in a way that is comprehensive and appropriate.
  • Consult with HR professionals and legal experts: When you work with specialists, they provide advice and guidance that complies with federal laws, state laws, and best practices.
  • Ensure policies are clear, concise, and easy to understand: Workers should be able to understand their rights, responsibilities, and expectations as outlined in the handbook. It is important to avoid ambiguity and unnecessary jargon, as complexity breeds confusion.
  • Communicate policies to employees effectively: This can be done through various methods, such as via employee meetings, emails, or posting the guidelines on the company website.
  • Regularly review and update policies to reflect changes in the workplace: This helps ensure your organization handbook policies are up-to-date and accurately reflect its current practices. This prevents any potential run-ins with the law (regarding diversity, inclusion, and anti-discrimination) or with industry bodies that regulate HR conduct.

Employee Experience and the Role of the Employee Handbook

As a general rule of thumb, your employee handbook should serve as a guide that helps workers understand their rights, responsibilities, and roles within the organization. You can achieve part of this by providing an outstanding employee experience, which can result in higher employee engagement and increased productivity.

For example, HR professionals with strong soft skills can effectively communicate the expectations of the organization to employees. They're also better placed to help employees understand the policies and procedures outlined in the employee handbook.

Furthermore, by maintaining an open line of communication and thinking critically and creatively, HR professionals can quickly resolve issues involving the employee handbook.

All in all, by fostering open communication, problem-solving, and collaboration, organizations can create environments where employees feel supported and are more likely to abide by the policies outlined in employee handbooks.


Developing effective policies can be difficult, but not impossible. By taking into account both legal requirements and best practices dictated by industry trends, you can create a comprehensive set of guidelines that foster trust between employer and employee.

When crafting these guidelines, always consider how they contribute to the overall employee experience by tailoring them to specific needs, consulting with other HR professionals and legal experts, communicating clearly, and regularly reviewing and updating policies to reflect changes in the workplace.

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