What does your staff handbook say about YOU?Over the last few months we seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time reviewing, rewriting and replacing staff handbook content for a number of our clients.

One thing that always impresses us is those businesses who take the time to make sure their handbook has the same ‘tone of voice’ as the business.  You know that what they have written is really what they think, feel and expect from their staff.

We’ve seen far too many handbooks where large chunks of information is either downloaded from the internet or borrowed from previous companies.  The one thing to remember about ‘borrowed’ content is that you can tell a mile off that it wasn’t written for, or by, the company who publish it and therefore it loses its impact.

Your staff handbook should be a continuation of how you do business, it should talk the same language and really engage with your staff the way your senior managers do. And staff handbooks don’t need to be encyclopedic volumes of corporate-style policies, they can be as short as you like, as long as they are valuable.

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Think about language – use terms that are familiar to your business and industry;
  • Don’t copy and paste!  If you are going to ‘borrow’ content from elsewhere, make sure you tweak it to fit with your style of dialogue;
  • It should be a ready reference for staff who need to refresh their memory, so make sure it is easy to navigate;
  • Keep it up to date – keep an eye on legislative changes, and update the handbook accordingly;
  • Make sure your staff know which rules they are expected to abide by – issue all staff with a handbook receipt, and when it is returned (signed), file it in the personal file so you can rely on it later if you need to;
  • Translate it – if you employ staff of different nationalities, it is your responsibility to ensure they understand the content.  If their English is satisfactory, then as a ‘belt & braces’ approach, have a paragraph on the handbook receipt in their own language stating how important it is they ask if they are not sure, as they will be expected to comply fully with the rules stated within;
  • Keep it simple – if you write volumes on each topic, you can expect very few staff to really take in what they are expected to do, and this just leads to problems down the line.

If your staff handbook hasn’t been updated recently or you don’t have one, we can help.  Give us a call us today to find out more about our staff handbook health check.