6 Policies You Need to Start a Strong Employee Handbook

When gathering company policies for an employee handbook, knowing where to begin can be a job in itself.

Pave the way for a sturdy, comprehensive and legally sound employee handbook that fits your organization’s needs by including these six essential documents.

1. Code of Conduct

Your business’s code of conduct is the first place employees should look when they have questions about ethics and compliance. That way, you and your managers don’t end up repeating yourselves over and over (and over).

The individual pieces may vary, but some of the basics include:

  • Code of ethics
  • Dress codes and grooming standards
  • Safety in the workplace
  • Attendance

A good code of conduct sets the tone for the organization, providing direction by displaying your company’s mission and core values. It also summarizes the rules and policies that most affect your business’s culture.

2. Communications Policy

With more ways than ever to communicate – written letters, text messages, emails, instant messages, social media sites, etc. – it’s easy for personal and company information to wind up where it shouldn’t.

By laying out solid guidelines for handling personal, company and customer information in the workplace, you’ll help avoid perhaps embarrassing and costly mistakes.

Furthermore, other company policies, such as anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and ethics policies extend to all forms of communication, making the solidity of this particular document even more crucial.

3. Nondiscrimination Policy

State and federal legislation brought on by the civil rights movement of the 1960s protects employees from discrimination based on factors not directly related to the quality of their work. These include but are not limited to:

  • Age
  • Race/color
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability

Laws prohibiting discrimination are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

By including a policy that addresses these laws, your employees will know how they are expected to comply with them.

“In addition to these policies, you should include information about who to contact should an employee need to report policy violations,” says Emily Dusablon, human resources advisor at Insperity.

4. Compensation and Benefits Policy

So what’s in it for your employees? This policy catches their eye by outlining how they’ll be rewarded for contributing to your business’s success. Furthermore, it helps you cover a few more legal bases by explaining payroll deductions, overtime, the Family and Medical Leave Act, workers’ compensation, COBRA health coverage and more.

Fringe benefits are a great way to attract and retain top talent. Use this section to detail things like health insurance options, retirement plans and tuition reimbursement. This way, your new hires can quickly learn about all those perks you talked about during their interviews.

5. Employment and Termination Policy

This document covers the basic terms of accepting employment with your organization and provides standard reasons for termination.

Other areas of employment that should be taken into account are:

  • Eligibility
  • Job classifications
  • Referrals
  • Introductory periods
  • Transfers and relocation
  • Union information (if applicable)

6. Acknowledgement Page

Be sure your employees read and understand everything in the handbook. And don’t just take their word for it.

“The handbook should include an acknowledgement page indicating they read and understood the policies, “says Dusablon. “You should keep a copy of the signed acknowledgement in the employee’s file.”

This way, when an employee violates a policy, the onus is on the employee, not your business.

The Takeaway

If you want employees to have a strong start with your organization, writing a basic but potent employee handbook is step one.

“The handbook is an important communication tool to outline what the company expects from employees,” says Dusablon.

By defining and understanding “business as usual,” you and your workforce are now free to focus on the job at hand.

It’s time to get started. With Policies Now®, you can easily create, write and publish customized company policies and employee handbooks.


this so good for HR trainees. thanks

Insperity Blog

You’re welcome, Dan! Thank you for your feedback. Glad you found this article helpful!