What Should Be Included in an Employee Handbook: A Guide

What Should Be Included in an Employee Handbook: A Guide
ByMilja
May 28,2021

An employee handbook is perhaps the single most important document in any company. In addition to communicating your company’s policies, it’s an essential part of onboarding new employees and conveying the core values of your business.   

But in spite of its importance, many small business owners don’t actually have a company handbook. Others don’t recognize its value until something goes wrong. That’s why it’s always better to have one as soon as you start your business. This is the best way to set clear expectations for your employees and outline your legal obligations and their rights. Our guide will tell you what should be included in an employee handbook and how to create one. 

What Is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is also referred to as an employee or company policy manual or a staff handbook. It outlines your company’s mission and culture while informing employees of the legal framework governing their employment. The handbook also includes various other components such as your company’s background information, procedures and policies, working conditions, and employee rights.

This document should be made available to each employee as soon as they are hired. The new employees should also be asked to provide a written acknowledgment that they received the handbook. 

What Topics Should Be Included in an Employee Handbook?

As an employer, you aren’t legally required to provide employees with a policy manual or a handbook. However, this is a highly beneficial communication resource between you and your employees, which is why many small business owners choose to create one. While insurance policies for small businesses protect you from professional mistakes, a written format of the company rules and policies can go a long way in shielding you from discrimination and harassment claims. 

But an employee handbook is not only about the rules and policies. It should also set the tone of the company’s culture and help create a healthy and positive work environment. This is why you should finish writing an employee handbook before you turn to job posting sites and begin the onboarding process. This approach informs employees about everything that’s expected of them before they start working. 

An employee policy handbook should cover several topics, including information about your company (history, values, mission), in-house rules (mobile phone use, for example), mandatory policies (equal employment opportunity and PTO), and human resources information.

The Main Components of an Employee Handbook for Small Business

There is no shortage of templates and employee handbook examples online. Most include the aforementioned key components and additional policies for different business organizations. Below is a list of the most common features in every company policy handbook, including some of the most important small business policies and procedures.

Introduction

Start by introducing employees to your company history and background information. This section can have a welcome note from the CEO, which introduces the company’s team and explains its mission and core values. This is the most flexible part of a handbook and can include everything from the purpose of the handbook to a contractual disclaimer. 

A widely accepted employee handbook definition requires the introduction to explain how your business is organized, who are the owners/CEOs, and where the business is incorporated. These sorts of details are useful to have on hand as most companies that provide business incorporation services, like Northwest Registered Agent, require you to provide this information. 

Onboarding 

Once you’ve outlined your company’s mission and vision, it’s time to explain how your company works. Start with the hiring and onboarding section, where your employees can get informed about the company’s structure, confidentiality agreement (nondisclosure agreement or NDA), and conflict of interest procedures. 

The most basic employee handbook information should also assure your staff that the company guarantees equal employment opportunities for all candidates. EEOC protects candidates against age, race, gender, or any other form of discrimination. 

Code of conduct

This section tells employees how the management expects them to behave, as well as the measures taken by the company against those who violate the rules. It’s one of the most important components on the long list of employment policies and procedures that protect both the company and its workers. Even the most flexible companies have boundaries, and it’s important that these are clearly outlined for everyone’s sake. 

The code of conduct section can include policies regulated by law, like the anti-harassment policy, but it can also outline other small business rules and regulations for employees, like the dress code. 

Payment and compensation 

For employees, this section will probably be among the most important ones, so you should make it clear and comprehensive. This part of an employee manual includes information about the payroll schedule, salary, and bonuses. It should also provide a simple explanation regarding taxes and deductions. While you can use software for calculating and filing taxes, the employee handbook should explain the main payroll deductions (federal, state, and local taxes, for example). 

Benefits 

When creating an employee manual, make sure you include all the perks. The section consists of the various benefits that the company offers to its employees - from sick leave and vacation time to health insurance, retirement plans, and career development. 

It goes without saying that this is a crucial section of your company’s employee handbook for every member of your team. In addition to the most common benefits such as paid time off and health care plans, some businesses include free courses, team-building exercises, office meals, and even unemployment insurance. Your workers will want to see their list of benefits spelled out, and they’ll carefully review these employee handbook contents. 

Employee termination procedure 

If your employee finds a new job or you need to lay someone off, there are procedures the company needs to follow. You should also inform your employees what happens when someone has to leave the team. The standard offboarding procedures include information about the last paycheck delivery and unemployment insurance. The policy can also explain how the last conversation with the company’s HR looks like. 

Employee acknowledgment 

This page should be signed by your employee after reading the handbook. It confirms that the employee understands your company’s rules and policies. 

How to make an employee handbook?

By now, we’ve established that an employee handbook is an important ingredient in any business organization. Yet many businesses decide to bypass this step when setting up their operation. Some business owners find it too difficult and time-consuming.

Here’s the good news. If creating a handbook for your small business is not your cup of tea, you can always outsource this task. Just like there are companies that provide bookkeeping services, there are those that can help you create your handbook from scratch.

Both professional HR consulting companies and law firms offer this type of service. With professional services, you’ll get something that’s customized to fit your business needs, but you don’t need to know how to write an employee handbook. These professionals will take care of everything, from incorporating the federal, state, and local policies into the handbook to writing sections that reflect your company’s culture in the best way possible. 

If you decide to go at it alone, you’ll need to conduct thorough research to identify the policies that need to be included. But this option gives you a chance to be creative. No one knows what kind of atmosphere you want to create in your company better than you. Think about the values you wish to promote and write them down. 

Alternatively, you can use online templates and forms for free to create a small business handbook. Adjust them to fit your needs, check if all mandatory policies are included, and write your expectations and rules. When you’re done, make sure the document is reviewed by legal counsel. 

Tips and tricks for writing an employee handbook:

If you decide to author a handbook on your own, here are some useful tricks that will help you along the way. 

Set the tone 

Make sure that you use a friendly voice when writing a handbook. Of course, you want to be sure that your employees will take it seriously, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to come off as authoritative. You can make an employee handbook by using encouraging and affirmative tones that are as effective as those written from the “don’t perspective.”

Design your handbook

The way you present your handbook is also important. Whether you create an online handbook or a paper copy, make sure it introduces new employees to your company’s colors and logo.

Include images

You can take things a step further when personalizing your handbook. Include photos of your office and team members to give off a more positive and friendly vibe.

What not to include in an employee handbook?

An employee handbook should have all “boring” mandatory policies, but you shouldn’t go into too much detail. A handbook should offer explanations that your employees can understand. This is especially important when it comes to things like health insurance and other benefits. However, for detailed information, there should be links to government websites where your staff can find additional information. 

It’s also important not to confuse an employee handbook with other manuals. While trying to figure out what to include in an employee handbook, some company owners arrive at the conclusion that it’s the same thing as an HR manual. This is incorrect. These are two completely separate documents. 

A handbook is a document for your employees that should be given to them when they start working for your company. Its purpose is to set expectations and communicate policies. 

An HR manual is for you and your human resources team. Its purpose is to explain the process behind your company’s policies. If someone violates any of the policies, your HR will know how to deal with it, thanks to the HR manual.

Frequently Asked Questions
What should be included in a handbook?

An employee handbook contains guidelines and policies that should help an employee fit into a business organization. A good employee handbook includes two key components. The first outlines the rules regarding the company’s in-house policies, like dress code, mobile phone usage, etc. The second one includes legal mandates, like health care policy, benefits, and PTO. There should also be a section explaining the company’s values, vision, and mission.  

How much is an employee handbook?

It depends on who creates it. If you decide to hire a professional to help you make your company handbook, the price ranges between $1,500 and $5,000. If you decide to create an employee handbook on your own, you can save some money, but it will cost you time. And if you are not sure which policies are mandatory for a state your company operates in, you’ll probably need to ask for legal advice. The ideal method is combining the two options. Get templates of employee policies online and create your handbook on your own, and then forward it to a legal service for review. It’s more affordable than paying for the complete service while ensuring that your handbook includes all the mandatory policies. 

How do I create a Small Business Handbook?

Although it might seem complicated, creating a handbook on your own can be fun. Our guide on what should be included in an employee handbook tells you everything you need to know before getting started.

Do small businesses have to have an employee handbook?

Legally, you don’t need to have a standard employee handbook in your company. However, you are legally required to inform your employees about their rights and benefits, like working hours, anti-discrimination and harassment policies, and more. Some business owners don’t have a handbook because it seems too time-consuming and expensive for them. But this is the best way to make sure that all your employees know what’s expected of them and what their rights are.

More from blog

If you’re thinking about launching a new marketing campaign, the first thing you need to do is check whether it’ll benefit your company or not. To measure how much revenue a certain campaign will generate, marketers check its ROI. ROI is an acronym for return on investment. It’s a common concept in the business world. To give a straightforward answer to the question from the title of this article - “What is ROI in marketing?” - we can say it’s a strategy that helps determine how much money you spend on a marketing project vs. the amount of revenue you gain from it. As this is one of the vital calculations in marketing, we’ll focus on its purpose and explain how you can analyze the marketing ROI for your company. The Importance of ROI in Marketing Marketing professionals and business owners, in general, rely on data-driven evaluations to help them decide how to assign their marketing budgets. And that is where ROI steps in, as it allows marketers to develop a more successful strategy by using their resources more effectively. Now let’s see what the key functions and the true purpose of ROI in marketing are. Prioritizing Projects By calculating the ROI of multiple marketing campaigns, you’ll be able to see which one of them brings you the most value, and that can help you correctly prioritize campaigns to boost your company’s revenue growth. ROI will also shed light on which projects aren’t bringing enough revenue and possibly hurt your business. Once you measure the ROI of each campaign, you’ll be able to decide whether to reevaluate your marketing strategy or end some of those projects.  Selecting Future Projects Once you learn how to prioritize your current projects, it’ll be easier to find a pattern to successfully target your audience in the future. Measuring ROI in marketing will help you learn from experience and develop new strategies when choosing your future projects. Understanding Your Audience One of the greatest advantages of knowing your ROI in marketing is that it allows you to better understand your audience and its behavior. It doesn’t just give you an insight into the numbers coming from various projects; it also shows which strategies have the best impact on your audience. Once you know that, it gets much easier to decide which type of advertising to go with to draw in new clients.  To fully answer the question “Why is marketing ROI important?” we shouldn’t overlook client satisfaction. If you work in a marketing agency and your clients are other businesses, one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating a new marketing strategy is how you’ll present it to your existing and potential clients. Apart from reliable CRM, which has already become a common practice among real estate companies, brokerages, and many other businesses, incorporating the predicted ROI of your campaign into the presentation is also something that can boost your clients’ trust. Understanding Competition Knowing how to define your ROI in marketing and measure it correctly can take you a long way. However, many experienced marketers go one step further and compare their marketing ROI with that of their competitors. This helps them determine how their marketing campaigns relate to others in the industry in terms of efficiency. Studying the business strategies of your competitors who have a higher ROI percentage can give you an idea how to improve your own business. Better Budget Allocation The ultimate goal of understanding ROI in marketing is better budget allocation. Marketing budgets are always lower than you’d like them to be, so learning how to use the funds you do have at your disposal wisely is essential. To achieve better results, you need to know which projects require less investment but bring more revenue. How To Calculate ROI in Marketing The easiest way to determine your marketing ROI is to compare your revenue to your marketing expenses.  One of the simplest equations for calculating ROI is: (Revenue − Investment) / Investment If, for example, you invest $10,000 in a particular project, and generate $20,000 from it, your ROI formula will look like this:  ($20,000 − $10,000) / $10,000 = 1 To calculate your marketing ROI percentage, you should multiply this final number by 100. In this case, your marketing ROI would be 100%.  There are a few things to keep in mind when calculating your marketing ROI. Here, we’ll go over each in more detail. Set a Time Frame One of the crucial things when determining your marketing ROI is to set an appropriate time frame for data gathering. If you wish to see if your latest marketing campaign was a success, you need to allow enough time for it to reach your clients before looking for a return on your investments. Also, be consistent and use data from the same business cycle. Measure the Marketing Cost and Sales Growth Now that you know the meaning of ROI in marketing and its importance, your next step should be to collect all the relevant financial data about your marketing project. If you need to calculate an ROI and have a large amount of data to process, seek help from the bookkeepers and accountants. Consider keeping a marketing record where you could enter all your ROI calculations to gain insight into which factors influence your marketing ROI the most. What Is a Good Marketing ROI?  Marketing ROIs are usually expressed in ratios. What is a good ROI ratio in marketing? You should aim for a 5:1 ratio at least. Anything below a 2:1 ratio is considered unprofitable; anything below 1:1 is negative ROI, while an ROI ratio above 5:1 is deemed to be strong for most businesses.  When calculating your ROI, you should factor in all the marketing costs your campaign will incur, including: Pay-per-click spend Media spend Content production costs Outside marketing and advertising agency fees Make sure you don’t overlook anything because understating your costs will result in an incorrectly calculated and unrealistic ROI.  Marketing ROI Examples and Strategies Now that you’re familiar with some basic reference values, let’s go through a couple of practical examples.  Pay-per-Click Campaigns PPC is an advertising model in which you pay a certain provider to promote your ad based on the number of user clicks on your ad, whether or not it leads to a sale. The ROI formula can help you track your ad performance and manage your PPC campaigns. For example, according to some PPC stats, Google search ads have an average ROI of 200% - for each dollar invested, marketers gain $2. Video Marketing For what else is ROI in marketing used for? For assessing the profitability of video marketing campaigns. Although video marketing can be pretty expensive and time-consuming, video marketing statistics indicate that 88% of marketers are satisfied with their social media video marketing ROI. Email Marketing Even though many think sending emails is outdated, it’s still one of the key marketing tools. Recent statistics show that email marketing is the most effective way to promote your business. This type of marketing brings $40 back for every $1 spent, so it comes as no surprise that many marketers see it as their number-one tool for revenue generation. Paid Social Media Promotions  We already know the importance and numerous benefits of ROI in marketing. Now let’s see what it can tell you about the effectiveness of your social media promotions. Suppose your company targets an audience that regularly uses social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. In that case, you might think about boosting your posts to get promoted on the newsfeeds of your targeted audience. Tracking the ROI of your campaign can help you see if this strategy works for you and determine the types of posts that lead to the revenue increase. If you look at social media marketing stats, you’ll notice that 94% of marketers use Facebook in their marketing campaigns. This isn’t surprising as Facebook is the biggest social media platform, with about 2.89 billion monthly active users. The Bottom Line Understanding ROI in marketing is a vital part of any marketing campaign. And even though calculating it might get complicated, it comes with great benefits. It enables you to gain a better insight into your marketing strategies, how they need to be tweaked, and determine your future marketing goals. Your marketing decisions and marketing budget should be based on fresh, verified, and detailed data - only then will you be able to calculate your ROI properly, adjust your business strategy, and ultimately, improve revenue growth.
By Milja · September 24,2021
If you’re into sales or run a small-business company, you already know how difficult it might be to keep track of everything. Most small-business companies are using some form of CRM to help them keep on top of things and increase sales, but there are also some tactics that you can start implementing on your own. Cross-selling and upselling are the key strategies that can help grow your revenue by boosting the average order value. We will start this article by explaining what each of these terms actually means before discussing how cross-selling vs. upselling works.  Cross-selling definition and purpose Cross-selling is the strategy of offering customers additional items related to their initial purchase. By implementing this strategy, companies encourage customers to spend more money by purchasing additional items that complement their original purchase. In most cases, cross-selling includes products that users would buy anyway. As people sometimes tend to forget those items, it is beneficial for both sides to point them in the right direction. They will get all they need, and you will get your sales boosted. What is upselling? Upselling encourages customers to spend more money by purchasing a more expensive or upgraded version of their initial purchase. To apply the upsell, a salesperson needs to suggest an upgrade or persuade a customer to purchase add-ons. Upselling increases the average order value and helps customers get even more satisfied with their purchase.  The difference between cross-selling and upselling Now that we know what both of these terms stand for let's summarize their differences. Here is one of the upselling vs. cross-selling examples we have all experienced. When you’re at your local fast food buying a cheeseburger, the salesperson will always offer to add some fries with that. That is a clear example of a cross-sell, and it’s a win-win situation cause who would say no to fries? If they offer to supersize your meal instead, and you agree, you have just become a “victim” of an upsell.  How to successfully cross-sell and upsell There are a few things you should know if you wish to master the art of cross-selling and upselling. Learn all about your product. The most important thing to do before you start implementing cross-selling and upselling strategies is to get familiar with the product you’re offering. Make sure to look into all of your products and all of their features well to know how those products fit together. By combining two wrong products, you can turn the customer off instead of convincing them to purchase more.  Get to know your audience. Try to collect as much information about your customers as you can. Real estate companies use CRM to easily keep track of amenities a property might have to ensure they’re presenting the customer with the best option possible. Collecting demographic and psychographic information about your customers and paying close attention to their feedback will make place for the new cross-selling and upselling opportunities. In the long run, these tactics can help you enhance customer satisfaction, which is crucial for running any successful business. Keep things simple. Offering too many products might be overwhelming for the customers, and it can create unnecessary confusion. You should always strive to build a long-term relationship with the customers and target a few items that would provide a clear benefit for them. Offer loyalty perks. Based on your business model, you should try to establish a loyalty scheme for regular customers. Customers who buy more should enjoy some loyalty offerings and get rewarded for their commitment to your store. Do follow-ups. Although there is a clear distinction between upselling vs. cross-selling, you can find the opportunity to implement both of these selling techniques after the customer has already made their purchase. You can achieve this by doing a follow-up after each successful sale to ensure they are happy with the purchase, and if they are, you can easily suggest appropriate upsell or cross-sell products. Cross-selling and upselling in eCommerce eCommerce is probably the best environment for cross-selling and upselling. According to eCommerce stats, online retail shops generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020. These numbers show how the shopping trends have changed over the years. Learning how to make the best out of the new trends is vital, as there are multiple benefits of cross-selling and upselling to consider. eCommerce gives you a great opportunity for cross-selling and upselling because you have access to customer data and their shopping history, which can help you come up with the targeted offers. It’s also great as you can insert different cross-sell and upsell products throughout the shopping process or in the post-purchase confirmation email.
By Milja · September 24,2021
Both demand generation and lead generation are highly valuable marketing strategies that businesses need to employ in order to generate new leads and boost their customer base. In other words, a lead generation effort cannot be effective without a demand generation component.   As such, the demand generation vs. lead generation comparison can sometimes get a little confusing. But even though these two strategies work towards the same goal, they are fundamentally different. In a nutshell, demand generation involves activities that build awareness about your service or product, whereas its counterpart is tasked with turning that interest into leads.  In an effort to dispel some of the confusion, our guide delves deeper into the main characteristics of both strategies.   What Is Demand Generation? Demand generation or demand gen is the process of getting the public interested in your company’s products and/or services. The idea is to develop a targeted marketing program that drives awareness of what your business is offering and draws visitors to your website. Most people think that this comes down solely to improving the visibility of your content on different social media channels. However, a big part of demand generation is helping your target audience identify problems and then offering your service as the solution. For example, a demand generation strategy targeting small business owners who are uncomfortable with the idea of being their own bookkeeper will highlight the importance of focusing on growing one’s business while passing off this ‘confusing’ and ‘overwhelming’ task to bookkeeping service providers.   Demand generation, or rather awareness, is on top of every sales funnel, followed by lead generation strategies. Think about it as the starting point of a consumer’s journey through the sales funnel. Demand generation content comes in a variety of forms, including influencer posts that show how effective your services are or sharing free tools and articles. It’s important to note that B2B demand generation content is non-gated, meaning that your audience doesn’t need to provide personal information in order to engage with it.   What Is Lead Generation?  Unlike demand gen, which focuses on calling attention to the need for your product/service,  lead generation activities seek to convert your audience into leads. If implemented properly, the combination of lead generation and demand generation will bring in new clients and boost your consumer base.  Lead generation is built on demand gen marketing strategies. If your company has a successful demand generation program, the big pool of potential prospects is then directed to the lead generation team that will nurture them into leads. Lead generation relies on strategies that include collecting names and contact details from the audience that show some interest in the company’s services.  The contact creation process in the case of lead generation marketing involves free webinars and tutorials, product guides, whitepapers, ebooks, free trials, and other content that visitors can get access to if they disclose their personal details.  The Difference Between Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen  A B2B marketing strategy that blends demand gen and lead gen components enables the company’s sales team to convert more leads into prospective buyers and thus increase revenue. But if your business uses both strategies without knowing the purpose of each, you’ll probably end up with a poor audience pool. Even though demand gen and lead gen are similar processes and work hand in hand, businesses must acknowledge the clear distinction between the two in order to implement a successful funnel strategy.   In the lead generation vs demand generation comparison, the key difference comes down to the content being used. When it comes to demand generation, the purpose of the content is to generate brand awareness and capture an audience interested in the company’s products and services. The content created for lead generation is lead-oriented, and its purpose is to turn the audience into leads.  Simply put, demand generation produces content that is focused on demand, while lead generation produces content that’s focused on collecting information about leads.  Another key difference between demand generation vs lead generation is the marketing funnel and the way targeting is used in both cases. The most important thing to identify is the distinction between people who don’t know about your products or services and those familiar with your brand.   Demand generation is not about creating content that will reach as many people as possible but creating brand awareness and reaching those who actually might be interested in your products and services, and thus, most likely to become leads.  In the demand creation vs lead generation comparison, content promotion is also different. Demand generation programs don’t pay for sharing content with people who are familiar with the brand. Once you have a base of people who know about your products and services, lead generation programs enter the fray.  Bottom Line  If you want to run a successful marketing campaign, both demand gen and lead gen strategies must be incorporated. It’s pointless to drive the right traffic to your site if you don’t have the necessary tools for lead conversions and following up with prospective clients. And although these two components work towards the same objective, it’s important to remember that they play uniquely distinct roles in the sales process.
By Danica Jovic · September 23,2021

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.


There are no comments yet