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Your quick guide to creating an employee handbook [incl. template]

Your quick guide to creating an employee handbook [incl. template]

6 mins read

Mon, Oct 18, '21  

What can you use an employee handbook for?

Think of an employee handbook as an instruction manual for working at your company. Its main goal is to help new employees get settled into their new job, and gain a solid understanding of your organization. 

An employee handbook can take many forms, but it’s most commonly used to communicate an organization’s mission, vision and values, as well as guidelines on company policies, rules, and expectations. It can also include details about company benefits, compensation, vacation policies, and safety regulations. 

What an employee handbook could help you achieve

An employee handbook should be an essential component of a new hire’s onboarding as it helps employees understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from the company. 

Creating an employee handbook is hugely beneficial to both your HR team and your employees. Here are some reasons why: 
  • It increases your employees’ awareness and understanding of your company culture.
  • Including a code of conduct sets expectations for how your employees should behave on the job. 
  • It offers protection for both employers and employees by defining workplace rules and rights.
  • A handbook serves as a useful resource for employees to check dress codes, vacation and sick leave policies, and company benefits—reducing the workload of your HR department.

How to create an employee handbook

Want to update an existing employee handbook? Or create a new one from scratch? We’ve got you covered. 

The following template is based on our employee handbook at Happeo, which includes sections on employee onboarding, learning and development opportunities, employee benefits, and much more. 

Go ahead and use this template as the foundation for your employee handbook, and make sure to adjust the sections to the specifics of your organization. Feel free to make it your own!

1. Onboarding

During the onboarding process, a new hire goes through a series of measures to get acquainted with the team, and learn more about the organization, its structure, culture, and values. Including a section for onboarding in your handbook can help to prepare your new employee for their first few weeks on the job. Consider including the following sections:

  • Information on an employee’s first weeks at the company, such as a tour of the office, getting to know the team, IT setup, etc. 
  • How the buddy system works 
  • Company mission and vision
  • An overview of your company culture 
  • A list of your company values 

2. Working info 

You can also think of your employee handbook as a reference guide or ‘FAQ’ for new employees. That’s why it’s a good idea to include a section with all the important practical details a new employee will need to know, including:

  • Office locations and instructions for connecting to the WiFi 
  • Important contacts such as the office or HR manager
  • Company device policy and instructions on how to take care of your equipment.
  • Working from home policy, including the perks and equipment available for remote working, such as chairs, headsets, desks and screens.
  • Tips for working remotely.  

Here’s an example WFH tip from the Happeo employee handbook: 

👨‍💻 Maintain a work-life balance 

When we work from home, the lines between job and home life can become blurry. That’s why it helps to set space boundaries, including having a separate workspace with its own door, if possible. We encourage you to establish time boundaries in the form of a daily work schedule, such as closing your laptop at 17:30. It’s really important to mentally detach from work and focus on relaxation at the end of a workday.


3. Wellbeing at work

Use this section to offer advice on how to stay happy and healthy while at work. Below is an excerpt from the employee wellbeing section taken directly from the Happeo employee handbook:

“Sometimes, when working passionately and persistently, we forget to take care of our bodies and minds. However, to stay healthy, happy and productive, we need to take care of ourselves throughout the day! Here are some tips to help you do so: 

Take breaks 🌞

It's sometimes hard to stop what you’re working on and take a break, but remember that small regular breaks make work more fun and can improve your work results. You can use tools like BreakTimer to remind you to take a break. 

Taking regular breaks is not just allowed, it’s encouraged! Because we believe that at the end of the day, you’ll have been fresher, in a better mood, and therefore more productive.”


4. Learning and development 

Does your organization offer learning and development opportunities to employees? If so, it’s a good idea to show how much you value the growth of your people by listing the L&D opportunities available. You could include the L&D budget and list any partnerships with educational institutions or online learning platforms. 

5. Behavioral policy 

Including a behavioral policy in your employee handbook is important to ensure that all employees are aware of the expectations that your workplace has for behavior—helping to create a positive and safe work environment.

A behavioral policy generally includes guidelines covering:

  • Respectful and professional conduct
  • Appropriate use of language and behavior
  • Acceptable dress code
  • Time management and punctuality
  • Conflict resolution and dispute handling

6. Holiday and sick leave

Detailing your holiday and sick leave policy in your employee handbook is essential for providing employees with the information they need regarding taking time off from work. 

Not only does it show your employees that you value their health and wellbeing, it encourages them to take breaks to refresh and recharge. Make sure to include the procedure for requesting holiday days or sick leave.

7. Compensation and benefits

Who doesn’t love the ‘perks of the job’? In fact, employee benefits are probably one of the reasons why a new hire decided to join your company. Perks can include anything from extra vacation days, gift cards, access to special events, free or discounted services, or even flexible working hours. 

Also consider including the following information:

  • When salaries are paid out, instructions on how to view pay slips, and a contact to reach out to for any questions
  • How to submit expenses
  • If phone subscriptions are available
  • A pension plan (if your organization offers one)
  • Guidelines on how to book business travel, including the approval process and details of the provider that will make the booking for you

8. Relocation

If you hire talent from overseas, having a relocation section can be really helpful. Moving to a new country is just as daunting as it is exciting, so giving new employees all the information they need to settle into a new country is a nice touch. 

You could provide a guide with tips on housing, how to set up a bank account, how the healthcare system works, where to sign up for language classes, as well as information on local expat meetups. 

9. Referral program

If your organization offers a referral program, including it in your employee handbook is a great way to give your team a little extra motivation. You can encourage your employees to help you find perfect candidates for open positions by listing the referral bonus or other incentives offered if their referral succeeds. 

10. Offboarding

Even though your staff will receive the employee handbook when they join your company, it’s still important to communicate the employee offboarding process. This might include information on the notice period (which may differ per country), how to communicate your departure, how to delegate responsibilities, and how to fulfil HR requirements such as returning office equipment.

Create an impactful employee handbook in Happeo

You can create your very own employee handbook in Happeo. With Happeo’s Page Templates you can choose from a selection of ready-made templates, apply your own branding, add your content, and deploy it in a matter of minutes. You can also create your own custom template without needing to code, just drag and drop the sections you need.

Create your own with Happeo