We’ve grown rapidly at Reward Gateway and have always seen ourselves as innovators, which might be why we’ve never had an employee handbook before. A large, cumbersome document full of policies and procedures isn’t who we are. And then I realised, the larger we get, the more we need to be focused on improving employee experience.
Having a handbook with everything our people need to be the best at their jobs and get the most out of it seemed like the logical thing to do.
I'll admit, putting an employee handbook in place for a company who’s never had one before seemed like a daunting task, especially since they can be pretty big beasts, racking up to 50+ pages – and I’d never written one before!
So, here are six lessons I learned when putting ours together.
1. Don’t be scared of the blank page
Ah, the enemy of starting any writing task – the blank page. Which only seems more blank knowing all of the work you’re about to put into it. Thankfully, there are plenty great templates online and some companies have even published their employee handbooks online for you to read.
Use a template to get an idea for how you want to structure your handbook and create an index. From there, you can work backwards and see what you already have and what you need to fill the gaps.
2. Think forward
It might be a while since you last looked at your employee handbook – or even thought about having one! – and in that time, the overall employee experience has changed. To ensure we’re improving the employee experience in HR, we need to make sure the policies we have in place reflect the workplace our people experience today, not twenty years ago. For example, do you have a Mental Health policy? Or a stance on Gender Diversity? Including information about what your company is doing to create an inclusive culture and address common questions will show your workforce that you’re switched on and listening to their individual needs.
3. Remember your audience
Do you have a workforce which spreads across multiple countries? Are you more corporate with your tone? Or do you go informal? These are things which you need to consider to ensure your handbook improves the employee experience across all aspects of your workforce. In the same vein, is your workforce more offline than online? If so, you might need to consider printing your handbook and factor in the extra costs associated.
4. Take it on the road
Are you familiar with the phrase “can’t see the wood for trees”? Well, you might get so close your employee handbook that you don’t see it as part of the bigger picture. Try passing it under the eyes of heads of different departments to see what they think to it. You might find that there are some key details which you weren’t aware of that better capture and improve the employee experience of an area of the business.
5. Make information easy to find
As I started gathering policies to place in the employee handbook, I noticed there were multiple versions and it took me more time than it should have to make sure I had the one which was the most up to date. Now that we’ve got all of our policies on one document, our handbook is going to be our one source of truth. This means that we’ll update and make amends on the live document, as well as taking an individual policy from there if it needs to be shared externally – knowing that it’s always the most up to date version.
6. Don’t be afraid to get creative
If your company allows it then you can take your employee handbook as far as you want and, in all honesty, the more creative it is then the more likely it is that your employees will read it. Check out this innovative employee handbook by Metal Toad which is steeped in Medieval undertones, encouraging their people to join them on a quest and giving a great insight to what the employee experience at that company must be like. I love it, and it’s not often you shout about another company’s employee handbook!
So there they are. Six lessons I learned when putting together Reward Gateway’s new employee handbook. I’d love to see creative examples you’ve put together or hear about any lessons you’ve learned. Get in touch!
As Head of Global Engagement and Internal Communications, Catrin's main focus is to make Reward Gateway a better place to work. Using the Engagement Bridge™ model, she drives our mission, purpose and values while adding sparkle and creativity to our internal communications.
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