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Creating an effective employee handbook

A good employee handbook can help your business run more efficiently and establish clear, positive employer-employee relationships. The goals of a handbook should include communicating expectations and setting out processes and chains of command to address various issues.

Your handbook should reflect your business values and facilitate the running of your company. Thus, it needs to be customized to your specific circumstances and goals. Consulting an attorney during the drafting process can help you avoid potential legal pitfalls.

Communicate clearly

To communicate effectively, the handbook must be in plain language your employees can understand. Avoid cramming it with industry jargon and legalese. Reading the book should lead employees to understand workplace rules and policies, how discipline works and what they must do should they face a problem at work.

Keep it realistic

Make sure you only include policies and procedures you are able and willing to adhere to. Some ideas may be great in theory but impractical to implement in your particular business setting. A handbook that contains ideas you will not put into practice is likely to fail in motivating employees and obtaining consistent behavior in the workplace. In addition, you do not want to include anything that may constitute a contractual promise, especially if you may not end up carrying it out.

Include disclaimers

It is also prudent to ensure you clearly differentiate the employee handbook from any type of employment contract. Clear, visible disclaimers asserting employment is at-will can help avoid claims that the book created a contractual relationship.


Your handbook can play an important role in motivating employees and generating buy-in into your company's goals. Include a clear mission statement along with a concise description of the business's goals and the role employees play in achieving it.

Keep pace with changes

Human resources experts also recommend employers review and update handbooks on a regular basis. As your company and the marketplace continue to change and evolve, you may want to adapt your content. In addition, have a lawyer review it as well, as changes in the law can also necessitate updates.

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