Blog·HR Management

June 16, 2021

Top 10 Employee Handbooks You Should Learn From

An Employee Handbook can make new hires feel supported and confident as well as improving work ethic from day one. Read our top 10 Employee Handbooks to be inspired!

The employee handbook is an important step in building a positive company culture, maintaining employee loyalty, and improving well being. It is a great tool for clearly mapping out your company's ethos, values, and expectations of its employees.

What is an Employee Handbook? ℹ️

The employee handbook can go by many names such as: staff or employee manual, employee field guide, and culture code. However, what they all have in common is that they are a document that should be given to the employee on their first day. It should also be clear, concise, and contain the company's:

When should you make your Employee Handbook?⌛

While there are no direct laws enforcing the use of an employee handbook, there are some state laws requiring you to inform your employees of their workplace rights. This means that the handbook can offer both legal and non-legal value, through covering these rights and mitigating any potential conflict within the company by clearly stating the expectations and protocols from day one.

Therefore, it's advised to have a handbook already in place before you begin the onboarding process of any potential employees.

What makes a good Employee Handbook? ✅

Employee handbook - 6 points

While a small business may have a differing handbook than a large corporation they all should share a few similar qualities included in their employee handbook's. This is usually being informative, clear, easy (& enjoyable!) to read, and designed to represent the company. As well as containing the following...

1. Code of conduct

This is where your employees will refer to when they have questions on compliance and ethics. This should include:

  • Code of ethics
  • Dress code
  • Workplace safety
  • Attendance Requirements

A clear code of conduct section will help you in those difficult conversations with an employee who is not meeting requirements, allowing you to refer back to it for support.

2. Communications policy

This has become increasingly important with the advances in technology and an increase in remote working. This policy covers areas such as the use of company electronics to use personal social media. It states explicit expectations on usage and behaviour of the companies devices.

Anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and ethics policies also need to be covered in terms of online presence.

3. Compensation and Benefits policy

This covers all the employee benefits and compensation available. It would also be useful to cover areas such as overtime, working hours and family medical packages. The family medical leave act and workers compensation policy is expected to be included.

4. Non-discrimination policy

This covers the details on how your organisations will not tolerate and then will deal with harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability
  • Sexuality
  • Gender

It should also include your equality policies.

5. Onboarding and termination policy

Provides basic explanation of the beginning and the end of an employees career cycle. It outlines what to expect when going through these processes and what are the relevant actions they need to take.

6. Employee Acknowledgement form

This is usually a signed form to show that the employee understand the contents of the employee handbook.

Top 10 Employee Handbook examples 🔝


Valve's handbook is a go to example shown by it going viral in 2012. Its imaginative and playful design directly reflects its companies ethos. It's filled by a humorous but an informative tone making its users feel supported. Valve also explains its hierarchy which is flat allowing its employee's to pick their projects, which this modern approach to work is supported by Valves slightly "off-beat" approach to its handbook.

Employee Handbook - valve

💡Tip: Valve continuously uses real life examples, which is great for getting too grips with the office life and to be better prepared for real life situations.


Using AirMason, Hubspot's employee handbook keeps the reader engaged while being effective in getting its companies message across. They use a simple slide share for easy to digest information. This easy to grasp technique aligns perfectly with their inbound marketing product.

Employee Hanbook - hubspot

💡Tip: Use rich visuals and a little bit of humour to keep your employees engaged like Hubspot.


Similar to Hubspot Netflix's employee handbook uses slide shares to create an easy-to-digest format. It is very extensive and includes future policies about how they plan to scale, which is expected from such a large and fast growing company. It is simple yet effective with short sentences and no playful humour unlike some of the other strong handbook.

💡Tip: Use Netflix's "straight to the point" approach to keep your handbook efficient.


Smartly Trello made their employee manual using their own product, a web-based project management app. The tasks and to-do cards breaks down the different policies and sections. It simultaneously informs employees while getting them used to the product. They keep it light by including photos of their staff and animals in some cards, however similar to Netflix it is mostly short sentences and straight to the point.

💡Tip: Be creative! Try to use your company's products or services as your employee handbook.


Streling's culture code also uses a slide share to successfully get across a lot of information. They make sure to spread it across many slides and make it as colorful but direct as possible reflecting their working style.

Employee Handbook - STERLING

💡Tip: Want your company to feel connected? Start your handbook with a message from your CEO like Sterling.


Disqus' culture book has a great balance between legal policies and company culture, starting with the legal stuff, like employment law. Its full of personality using color to bring its messages to life. Its tone is very conservational making it easy to relate to. It has a strong balance between personality and professionalism.

Motley Fool

Motley Fools's "fool rules" is innovative interactive handbook complete with photos, videos, and links for further reading. It uses concise language and focuses on the most important sections such as values, policies, and business models.

💡Tip: Make your handbook interactive by using links throughout.


Zappos' culture book published for public viewing in 2014 is a great example of how to do company culture right. It includes their values, missions and most importantly thousands of testimonials from employees creating an inspiring read. This is a very extensive handbook at 296 pages.

Employee Handbook ZAPPOS


Zaarly Employee Handbook is very similar to Sterlings, in that its a webpage with lots of colour and simple text. Zaarly is a home service provider aggregator platform based in multiple US cities and they make a real effort for their employee's to take pride in their company from the start using their handbook.

It is comprehensive but spaced out to promote digestibility, and also contains a humorous tone with jokes and puns throughout.

EF Education First

This sweet but simple employee handbook is perfect for the business! It uses wonderfully colorful children's illustration to bring to life this 7 page handbook.

We have employees from all around to world, so we wanted to make something...readable, digestible and entertaining - Fisher (CEO)

Employee Handbook EDUCATION 1st

💡Tip: Have an international business? Make sure your employee handbook is accessible to everyone, like EF Education First has.

Employee handbook: Start writing!

Hopefully, this top 10 has given you some inspiration on your own employee handbook! Some key takeaways are: keep it easy to read, make it interesting, and make sure it represents your company as its one of the first official documents your new hires will read.

Still need inspiration? Read our Employee handbook sample here 👈

Further Reading

Related articles from our blog, read on

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