Employee handbook template for SMB's

Employee handbook template for SMB's

Elena Nikolova


See how an intranet works

Learn how an intranet works with this short video.

9 mins read

Mon, Oct 18, '21  

Whether you are refreshing your employee handbook, or starting from scratch, we have a template to help you out.

The template below is based on Happeo’s own employee handbook, and includes sections on important areas such as employee onboarding, learning and development and employee benefits, as well as guidance around holiday and sick leave.

Feel free to use this template as a base for your own employee handbook, and make sure to personalize it to the specifics of your organization.


1. Onboarding 

Sections to include:

  • Info on your first weeks at the company
    • E.g. Tour of the office, getting to know your team, explanation and scheduling of onboarding sessions, IT set up.
  • Info on the buddy System 👯‍♂️

  • Company culture overview

  • Company values overview

  • Company Vision

2. Working info 

Sections to include:

  • Offices
    • Include addresses, wifi information and points of contact including emergency contacts and the office manager.
  • Company equipment and devices
    • Device policy, including instructions on how to take care of your equipment.
  • Working from home policy
    • Talk about the work from home policy, and list the equipment and tech available for the home office. For example, chairs, headsets, desks and screens. 

    • Tips for working from home

Below are a couple of WFH tips straight from the Happeo employee handbook:

🥗 Eat a healthy diet and keep hydrated

We recommend you maintain a healthy diet in nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Sometimes we get absorbed in our work, but it is essential to not skip any meals.

Schedule your 1 h lunch break in your calendar, so that the rest of your colleagues know not to add meetings in that slot. Also, do not forget to stay hydrated. Water is the best beverage choice but drinking moderate amounts of coffee and tea is also acceptable. It is best to avoid sugary beverages, such as sodas, energy drinks, and fruit drinks.

👨‍💻 Maintain a work-life balance 

When we work from home, the lines between job and home life can become blurry. For this reason, 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. Note the importance of mentally detaching from work and focusing on relaxation at the end of a workday.

🏋️‍♀️ Schedule regular exercise

Exercise has both physical and psychological benefits. Consider taking a brisk walk in your local area or exercise with a fitness video or mobile app. We recommend that after every 1h of sitting behind your computer, for you to stand up for at least 5 minutes and stretch or walk around your house.

👫 Stay connected

While working from home has its benefits, you may also feel more isolated. But there are lots of ways to stay in touch with those who matter – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as our own. In and out of work, human interaction matters so schedule video calls and pick up the phone instead of emailing. If you're struggling with working at home, speak to your colleagues or manager about your concerns. Remember, Happeo has the lottery coffee channel where you get paired with another colleague each week to share a virtual coffee together. This will help you connect with colleagues all around the world.

3. Wellbeing at work 

Use this section to offer advice on how to stay happy and healthy while at work. Below is the employee wellbeing section taken directly from the Happeo employee handbook. Feel free to personalise to your organisation:

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! Below you can find some resources and inspiration for wellbeing at work.

Work ergonomically 

All Happeo offices have proper adjustable desks, screens, and chairs. Take the time in the morning to create a good work setup!

During remote work, we would like Happsters to have the same comfort as when working from the office. You are allowed to borrow a desk, chair, and screen from the office and set it up at home. 

If it is not possible for you to pick the items up from the office, we can see if ordering suitable equipment to your house is possible.

Please note, all items will have to be returned to corresponding offices at the end of employment.

Breathe 💆‍♂️

It is obvious (and necessary 😉), but still easy to forget. Remember to breathe! Breathing is a very easy and quick way to:

  • Get your focus back if you’re distracted

  • Calm down if you feel overwhelmed

  • Become aware of your thoughts and body

We don’t mean just regular breathing, it would be silly if you forgot that.

The world is full of different breathing exercises, but a very easy one is to close your eyes and start counting your inhales/exhales.

  • Find a comfortable position

  • Close your eyes

  • Inhale for 5 seconds

  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds

  • Exhale for 5 seconds

  • Repeat!

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.

If you find it difficult to remember to take breaks you can outsource the task easily by downloading a break time reminder app on your laptop. One free and nice app is: https://breaktimer.app/.

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.

Are you receiving a meeting invite at the only moment you would be able to have lunch? From a health and happiness perspective, we disapprove! Probably they had no idea! Don’t be silent, accept the meeting, and skip lunch. Just inform them! We’re sure they understand and in the future reserve the time in your calendar!

Take a walk and talk 🚶‍♂️

Research is full of studies showing benefits of walking on a human psyche. Recently studies have also started showing the benefits of walking meetings ("Walk & Talk").

Some benefits include increases in:

  • creativity

  • productivity

  • engagement

  • connection

It's also a great way to give your eyes a break from screen and to increase your vitamin D level (disclaimer: more doable in some locations than others 😉)

Not all meetings are suitable for walk & talk, often we need access to materials or need a Miro board for brainstorming. One recommendation is to make the 1-1s with your manager/team lead a walk & talk. Test that hypothesis of more creativity and start brainstorming while walking. Take a look at your weekly meetings and see where there would be an option for a walk & talk.

If you have great results, share them with your team!

Keep moving! 🏋️


Our work requires a lot of time spent in front of the computer sitting and standing. It’s important to move throughout the day. Some ideas for this are:

  • Take a small walk outside

  • Make your meeting a stroll (see walk and talk)

  • Do a quick shoulder/neck stretching session

  • Cycle to the office

  • Walk to get lunch

  • Get up do a full body shake and sit down 🙂

Working in the front of a screen all day has especially an effect on our neck, shoulder and lower back areas. To prevent stiffness in these areas it’s good to do some focused stretching/moving.


...or listen to soothing music before falling asleep.

This is not for all, and it requires some practice, but a lot of people find meditation a good way to recharge, regain energy and to become more aware of your thoughts.

A useful resource when it comes to guided meditation, live yoga classes, workshops & talks on spiritual topics, or even sleep music is the app Insight Timer. You can create an account for free here and get access to a large collection of free practices!

So, if meditation is not your thing, Insight Timer also provides much more. Take a look! You might be surprised and find something even for you.


Taking care of yourself is not easy and most of us need some conscious effort. If you’re doing great already, of course there’s no reason for you to do any of the things above if you don’t want to. Or maybe you have completely different ways to stay healthy. But, don’t wait with taking care of yourself until it’s too late.

To actually know how you’re doing it’s good to monitor your wellbeing.

Some common signs that you might need to invest some more conscious effort in taking care of yourself:

On a regular basis,

  • You’re really tired before the workday is even over

  • You’re really tired when the workday has barely even started

  • You don’t have the patience that you know you should have

  • You’re unable to focus and seek distractions

  • In the middle of a task, you catch yourself just staring at the screen

  • Normally small tasks are starting to take very long

  • You’re unable to make decisions

  • You start skipping things that give you energy (exercising, socializing, etc)

  • Your sleep becomes disturbed (cannot fall asleep, wake up early or during the night),

  • You don’t feel rested when you wake up

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and one thing might apply more to you than another. You know yourself best. Just make sure you have a way to monitor how you’re doing and you’re encouraged to ask for help in figuring this all out.

Talk with your manager 

In your weekly or bi-weekly meetings, make it a habit to talk about your wellbeing. It’s good to share when things are good, but it’s especially important to share when you have concerns about your own wellbeing. When things go downhill fast, don’t wait until the scheduled appointment: reach out to your manager immediately.

Talk to the People Team 

Your manager is not the only person who’s here for you. Happeo has an entire team dedicated to the well-being of our colleagues. Feel free to reach out!

4. Learning and development 

Dedicate a section of the employee handbook to the learning and development opportunities available at the organization, as well as who to reach out to if you want to learn more.

5. Behavioral policy 

Dedicate a section of the employee handbook to talk about your code of conduct, diversity policy and grievance procedure.

6. Holiday and sick leave

Highlight your organization’s holiday policy, including guidelines on your holiday approval procedure. 

7. Compensation and benefits

Include here information on:

  • Payroll, including the day that salaries are paid out, instructions on viewing payslips and a contact to reach out to for any questions

  • how to submit expenses

  • on phone subscriptions

  • A pension plan (if there is one).

  • Any other information on employee benefits

  • Business travel. Offer 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 employ a lot of foreign talent, a relocation section can be a big help. Include a guide with practical information for people who have just arrived in the country, such as tips on housing, how to set up a bank account, and info on local expat meetups.

9. Referral program

If your company offers a referral program, include it in the employee handbook to make sure everyone knows about it.

10. Offboarding

Include guidelines on the notice period required (this might be different based on the working location) and how the departure should be communicated to the team as well as the wider organisation.

Create your employee handbook today 

Use the template above as inspiration for your own employee handbook, and make sure to personalise it to the intricacies and specifics of your organization.

It’s also crucial that the employee handbook is easily accessible and that everyone knows where to find it. Consider hosting the handbook on your employee intranet.

The work doesn’t stop when you click publish. Once your employees have had a chance to read over the employee handbook, use a tool like Google forms to survey your employees and generate feedback. Make sure to ask questions like:

  • Was the employee handbook document itself easy to find?

  • Did the structure of the handbook make it easy to find information quickly?

  • Was there any information that the handbook did not contain that you thought should be included?

Create your employee handbook with Happeo? 

Happeo is the industry leading intranet for fast moving organizations. Click here to watch a demo of a Happeo intranet in action.