Developing an Employee Handbook: What to Include

Dr. Ryan Giffen

An employee handbook is one of the most valuable resources a company can have. It contains vital information and guidance related to the company’s mission, values, and history. These handbooks should be a quick research guide for employees any time they have a question. Therefore, it should have everything an employee needs to know about company policies. Additionally, it should state what the employer's expectations are for their workers. 

How to Create an Employee Handbook 

There are several things that all employee handbooks should include to make them a useful resource for your business. Here are a few tips for developing your own employee handbook, as well as some suggestions for what you should always include. 

Review and Make Necessary Revisions To Your Company Policy 

Company policies are often the first things created when establishing a new business. However, over the years, your policies may change depending on a variety of factors. Additionally, if you haven’t reviewed your company’s policies in a while, it is a good idea to do so and make any necessary changes before you add it to your employee handbook. 

Scan your work environment and make a note of areas that could use improvement. Do you need to improve safety precautions in certain areas? Could your training and development use some extra work? Consider all areas when coming up with a new policy or revisions. Once new policies are developed and updated, all new details should be reviewed by legal counsel. 

Many employers don’t know where to start with their workplace policies. A good place to start is reviewing the National Labor Relations Board rulings and guidance. This offers specific guidance relevant to employee handbooks. 

Add Information About the Work Environment 

New employees have several questions during their first few days or weeks on the job. Therefore, by adding these important details to your employee handbook, you can save you and your new employees some time. 

Some information to add about the work environment could be: 

  • Work Hours 
  • Details about a work-from-home policy if it is an option 
  • Lunch and Break schedules 
  • Use of Company Equipment 
  • Safety Rules or any details on how to keep the workplace safe for all 

Create an Outline on What to Include In Your Handbook 

Here are the most important things to include in your employee handbook. 

  • Mission Statement
  • Company Policy
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
  • Contractual Disclaimer
  • At-Will Employment Statement (if you’re in an At-Will State)
  • The Purpose of the Employee Handbook 
  • Background Information on the Company
  • Terms for Disciplinary Action 
  • Information on Employee Training and Expectations 
  • Contact Information for company owners, supervisors, members of the HR team, etc. 

There are more items you may want to include such as legal mandates for both federal and state laws. These can include: 

  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Anti-Discrimination Laws
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 
  • Worker’s Compensation Information 
  • Other legal mandates required by local jurisdictions

Keep in mind that some suggestions for what to include in your employee handbook may not apply to all industries or geographic locations. 

Additionally, every employer should have a signed disclosure from each new hire, stating they received the employee handbook. This can help eliminate many issues in the future. 

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.