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A Post-Covid Guide to Help you Write an Employee Handbook

Use this guide to the Employee Handbook to help your new hires to understand some of the expectations your company for employees, along with the type of company culture you are looking to develop. With a particular focus on the return to work post-Covid.

What is an employee handbook?

An employee handbook (otherwise known as company manual, employee manual or staff handbook) is literature given to an employee. The handbook is an amalgamation of information bringing together employment and job-related information that an employee needs to know.

employee handbook definition

What should be in an employee handbook?

Untitled design (12)

The information in an employee handbook typically falls into three categories:

1. Culture

Usually containing a welcome statement, the company’s mission statement and company values.

2. Company Information

Usually information relating to holiday, company policy and company perks as well as on- and off-boarding procedures.

3. Company Policies

This category contains more detailed company policies, disciplinary and grievance procedures as well as specific information modeled around employment laws.

Amongst other policies and guidance, some key information in the typical employee handbook would include those mentioned in the image below.

Information to include in the employee handbook

What is the purpose of an employee handbook?

The employee handbook is a perfect tool, providing a compact overall guide to employment at a given company. It is great at providing new and existing employees with knowledge concerning the company’s mission, values and norms. Further, it provides employees with a reference point to a range of policies and procedures which they may need throughout their career at the company.

Considerations for a Post-Covid Workplace

In the wake of Covid-19, the remote working revolution shook up traditional practices in the workplace. This new norm took the world by storm and has left many employers begging the question of how they should best respond to the return to 'normal' as the threat of Covid-19 subsides. As organizations and countries start coming to terms with living with Covid, there is a need to consider how new hybrid modes of work will shape the employee experience.

The employee handbook is the ideal tool for providing guidance on expectations around working from home and for determining protocols in the wake of future pandemics. Using the employee handbook, you will be able to set the initiative and clarify expectations for employees, for example, how often individuals are expected to come into the office and so on.

additions for post covid employee handbook

Updating the employee handbook to incorporate considerations around the organizations commitment to employee wellbeing and public health responsibilities has never been more relevant. New joiners that can learn about the company's policy for Covid-19 and proposed support for victims will reassure them that they are considered as more than a employee but also a valued member of the team.

What makes a great employee handbook?

In principle, an employee handbook sounds like a relatively easy document to write. Yet many companies struggle to produce an effective handbook. Creating a great employee handbook requires understanding of the company, but it also means being able to produce ‘engageable’ content for the employee which can be used effectively.

According to research by GuideSpark, 43% of Generation Y are not reading the majority of the employee handbook, while 33% of other generations are not properly reading the handbook. Pertinently, 11% of Generation Y haven’t even touched their employee handbook while 36% of other generations don’t even know where to find their employee handbook.

5 Key Elements for creating a Great Employee Handbook

1. Easy to read

Making the content of your employee handbook easy to read and understand will make it easier for your employees actively engage with it. If you follow this criterion, you will want to limit the length of sentences, avoid unnecessarily complex language and keep the document light.

2. Detailed

This is not to be confused with dense (not a good idea!). Detailed doesn’t mean that it is jam packed with information (both necessary and unnecessary). Instead it refers to having all the correct and important information available in a succinct manner.

3. Fun!

Particularly innovative and very easy to engage with, developing an employee handbook which is fun to read makes it super easy to read and enjoy reading! Across the spectrum of handbooks there have been plenty of different takes on making them fun.

Zingerman’s employee handbook is jam packed of anecdotes, satirical cartoons and humour running throughout.

Valve’s employee handbook was leaked in 2012 and has since then been subject to great praise in the HR industry. Their employee handbook uses a clever, witty and heavily illustrated staff handbook which makes it particularly engaging.

4. Alternative Approach

The stereotypical employee handbook is endless, standard, dull text on far too many pages. However, some companies have veered far from the stereotypical design, instead choosing something completely different. The good news… it works! It retains the necessary elements of an employee handbook while presenting it in a fresh, innovative and interesting way.

5. Approachable Material

Quite simply: making the design and layout of the employee handbook approachable will make people want to read it. Either via, ease of read or enjoyment, making your handbook with an eye on approachable design is important.

Applications of employee handbook


Reviewing and updating your employee handbook on a fairly frequent basis is the best way to ensure that you are providing your workforce with up-to-date and useful information regarding the expectations of working within the organization. Taking time to incorporate guidance on your company's Covid policies will also demonstrate that you care about the health of your employees. It is important for individuals to understand these protocols so as to best protect all employees within the team.

We've got the perfect starting point for you to get started with writing your own Employee Handbook. Click Download policy below to get your copy!

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