When was the last time you read an Employee Handbook?
“Pursuant to the previous clause (heretofore referred to as ‘the clause).”
Every company needs an employee handbook:
- They set expectations for employees.
- They provide clarification about your policies.
- Ultimately, they can shield your company from lawsuits.
But that doesn’t mean they have to put everyone to sleep.
Employee handbooks should explain your culture and policies in a simple, non-legalese way.
This article will walk you through the creation of your employee handbook, and make sure it tells the story of who you are as a company.
The 5 Steps to Create an Employee Handbook for Your Cleaning Business
1. Start with an Outline
You can find various templates online that make sure you cover all the important points.
An outline keeps your handbook from becoming a random collection of thoughts about the company. It keeps everything organized.
Once you have an outline prepared, you can fill in your thoughts on each topic and keep them arranged by topic.
2. Keep it Conversational
Nothing gets people to stop reading like a document littered with technical words and difficult to understand phrases.
Imagine that you’re talking to an employee. How would you explain the policies to them, face-to-face? That's how you should write it.
If you have the time, you can literally sit down with an employee and record yourself explaining the policies to them. You can do this as a way to solicit feedback from an employee you trust while you’re getting everything put into writing.
Take a look at financial company The Motley Fool’s employee handbook online. It’s a slideshow with a few videos, but it’ll give you an idea of what a large, successful business believes is important to communicate to its employees.
Video game creator and distributor Valve also has their employee handbook available online. The tone is conversational, even a little sarcastic in places, and is a great example of communicating important company information without putting the reader in a coma.
3. Give Brief Summaries of Dense Information
If your state requires certain concepts to be explained (maybe even exact verbiage), make sure to summarize the information in bite-sized pieces.
Search the internet to find state requirements and consult your attorney about any you have trouble understanding. It’s better to spend a little up-front to avoid a potential lawsuit or fines later for non-compliance.
- Tell a brief story that illustrates the point
- Use a picture or graph to breakdown data
- Break things down into bullet-pointed lists (like this one!)
Any long paragraphs should be broken up into smaller thoughts.
The longer the paragraph or sentence, the less likely someone is to actually read it.
Trouble keeping your sentences short and easy to understand? Try the Hemingway Editor. It highlights complex sentences and words.
Clearly spell out what is expected of employees and what they can expect of the company.
It’s important that expectations are set and met for new employees. Don’t over-promise in this section! You don't want to "teach" your new employees that you can't deliver on your promises.
Expectations that are important to include in this section include:
- Pay Schedule
- Benefits and Perks
- What Constitutes Being Late to Work
- Company Holidays and Paid Time-Off (if offered)
- Social Media Policies (as recommended by NLRB guidelines)
By taking the time to define the employee’s experience, you set them up for success with your company.
If you tell Joe that...
- he’s expected to be at work within 5 minutes of his start time,
- he earns one week of PTO over the year,
- and you’ll organize a volunteer opportunity once a month
...and all of those things happen, he’ll be a happy camper. He's going to brag about how great his workplace is.
On the other hand, if you tell Joe nothing (or, worse, make promises you can’t keep), his morale will plummet as his expectations crash against the rocks of reality. Even if he gets exactly what I described above, he can still be unhappy because he assumed something different.
Day One expectations can make or break your company's morale. Your employee handbook is the first step toward a positive company culture for a new employee.
Looking for more ideas to retain your best cleaners? We've got Retention Boosters for you to test out.
5. Keep it Fresh: Why You Should Update Your Handbook Frequently
As new situations and needs arrive (hopefully as a result of growth!), update your employee handbook to reflect the changes in your company.
This does not mean that your employee handbook should read as a thinly veiled recounting of every mistake employees have made.
When something arises that’s covered by an existing policy, it doesn’t need to be added. When something ridiculous and crazy happens (an employee shows up to work in a scandalous Halloween costume in April, for instance), consider whether it’s likely to happen ever again before adding it to the handbook.
Make sure that new employees meet a modern version of your company and not your company as it was five years ago when you first wrote the handbook.
Businesses age quickly. Imagine if someone met you as an awkward 8th grader, all braces and zits. That's what your employee handbook feels like when you don't update it. They’re meeting a much younger, less mature version of your business.
An outdated employee handbook will be immediately apparent when an employee has any interaction with your business. They'll expect things to be done by the book and you'll constantly be saying, “Oh, we used to do it that way, but now…”
Updated your employee handbook to reflect the right expectations for right now.
Handbooks are a Compilation of Company Culture
Your employee handbook should be a shining image of who your company is today. Keep your handbook up-to-date and communicate expectations clearly and effectively to set employees up for success, which sets your business up for success. You're building a team, not a group of workers.
Make your employee handbook an asset to your business, instead of a "snoozefest" it will return your investment with happier, more satisfied employees.