Where is your Employee Handbook? Ask 20 people and 10 of them will confusingly look around their cubicle for a minute saying “I have it- I was just looking at it”. Then they’ll stop and look like they’re thinking until you go away.

Employee Handbooks are super important. We use them as a reference to company policies. They set a legal precedent protecting the business from various lawsuits. Employee Handbooks are part of a new workers introduction to the company and you always want to have it on hand.

My recommendation is to digitize your Employee Handbook. You should digitize all your important company documents and they should be made easily accessible to all employees. This can be as simple as a PDF emailed to them or implanting a copy on every computer and electronic device.

If you’re in construction, you want your workers to have a quick reference to OSHA policies. If you’re working in software development, you want your employees to know what procedures you use to protect your work. The name of the game here is access.

Constructing an Employee Handbook

Your Employee Handbook needs to be written with your employees in mind.

The index should

  1. Exist
  2. Be easily searchable for the important area

We always recommend that you integrate your own message to new employees with a welcome letter or some such thing, but don’t let that distract from its purpose- to create a safe and legal working environment. That’s the whole point of the Employee Handbook.

Problems with Employee Handbooks

I don’t like physical-only copies of employee Handbooks. Nobody reads them. I haven’t read 3 of last 4 employee Handbooks that were given to me. I assume they said something about showing up wearing swim trunks. It didn’t affect me, but I’m not who its written for. Employee Handbooks are for the lowest common denominator- the person who needs to be told that Sexual Harassment is wrong and to dress appropriately, but they don’t read it either.  Most of the time its referenced, the Handbook is being used by a superior to remind a subordinate of company policy. That shouldn’t be often, but it needs to always be available. And physical copies aren’t always available.

Handbooks are a pain. They get damaged. They get lost. If you make any changes, they need to be reprinted and redistributed. As companies grow, different employment laws begin to apply to them, which means you may be reprinting your manual every time you expand and, as you gain more employees, you’re going to need to print more and more. In those cases, out of date handbooks, that aren’t in line with current workplace laws, actually become a liability.

So Digitize Your Employee Handbook

Most companies already have an online portal for their HR functions- a third party site that employees use for calling off or getting insurance updates. Many companies outsource their entire HR department to professional firms. You already want to make things easier for yourself.

Many companies, especially ones where workers are on job sites and may need to adhere to safety and OSHA requirements, issue company tablets. Use them like clipboards that allow project managers to communicate with each other, give updates and reference company material. That material should include your Handbook.

Updates become easier and you have an opportunity to be more elaborative- we often try to keep companies from handing out phonebook-sized manuals to new workers. Every policy should be outlined in your material, but good handbooks tell employees where they can find more information. A digitized page can have a link.

So, this was my elaborative way to say “Digitize your handbooks”. New businesses often need to go through an arduous process of trial and error to find what works for them. If we can make it easier, we will. If you’d like more HR tips, take a look at our blog. Have a great day.