Tips to Consider While Writing Your Employee Handbook

Many companies have an employee handbook to clarify and dictate proper behavior, social norms and legal issues. Creating a handbook is a big project, and companies strive to write their guide in a way that’s thorough and clear, without being boring – employees should actually read the guide, after all. Moreover, companies have to make sure that they’re covering everything necessary to protect themselves and to avoid liability in the future.

Create the Handbook with the Masses in Mind

Every business is going to have a few bad seeds who like to push boundaries, break the rules, and get themselves or even the company in trouble. This is why creating a clear employee handbook is important, as a handbook will clarify what is okay and what isn’t, with little room for interpretation. Most employees will appreciate a guide to what conduct is expected at work, but if you create a handbook that sounds threatening and that scolds your employees before they even do something wrong, you’ll put your employees on edge and build mistrust from the beginning. Instead, you can clarify and outline the rules and repercussions while still being respectful of your employees.

Avoid Boilerplate Policies

You can easily find employee handbook templates online, but copying and pasting this information into your own handbook isn’t going to provide the information your employees need or the protection your company needs. Boilerplate information is meant to be used as an example or a starting point. You have to adapt this information to account for current laws, your industry and your location.

The same goes for covering scope of employment. The handbook should clarify what’s expected of an employee depending on their role. This can protect the business if the employee breaks a law by performing an act that falls outside their scope of employment. Usually, an employer is only liable if the unlawful act falls within the scope of employment.

Include Disclaimers

Every employee handbook should include disclaimers. Here are a few things that these disclaimers should make clear:

  • The employee handbook does not serve as an employment contract.
  • The employee is still considered an at-will employee.
  • The handbook can be modified at any time by the employer or HR department.

Disclaimers serve two purposes: they help the employee understand what they’re agreeing to and they also give the company the flexibility to make amendments as needed.

Don’t Skip Company Culture

Your employee handbook has to cover legal bases, but you shouldn’t skip over the backbone of your company: its values, mission, and ethos. That’s what employees truly care about, especially if you’ve vetted and hired the right people for your team. To the right employees, that sort of information is going to be a lot more important than the minutiae of lunch break and work shift policies. On the same note, think in terms of the culture you’re in, such as the industry you’re part of and the age group and interests of your employees. This will help you create an engaging handbook instead of a dry and boring one.

Explain the Thought Process Behind Policies

If you on’t explain why a policy is the way it is, employees are going to make assumptions and guesses, and they may talk themselves into being displeased with the policy. For example, let’s say one of your company policies is that no more than five employees can take their lunch break at the same time. To the employee, this may sound like the company doesn’t want coworkers to mingle or get to know one another. In reality, though, this could be so there are always enough people monitoring communication so that there’s never a long wait for a customer.

Here’s another example: your employees may not realize why proper retention and disposal of customer records is important. They may assume that you’re just being picky and over-cautious. By explaining that those records have personal information or health information protected under HIPAA law, employees will take document retention and shredding more seriously.

Ask for Feedback

There’s nothing wrong with asking your employees for their opinions about the employee handbook. You may find out that something is unclear, that they were told different information during the hiring process or that your policies aren’t aligned with industry best practices. While you don’t have to make changes to the employee handbook simply because some employees have a problem with it, you’ll open yourself up to new viewpoints you may not have thought of yourself.

Make the Handbook Accessible Online

Employees will get the most value from a handbook if it’s accessible and searchable. Storing your employee handbook online means that employees (and management) can access it from anywhere and search for exactly what they want without thumbing through page after page. Also, any changes made to the handbook can be highlighted or mentioned on an introductory page. It’s also a good idea to let employees comment on parts of the handbook in case they have questions or concerns. This is especially important for remote workers and freelancers who need to be able to digitally communicate with the company from wherever they are in the world.

The Future of Your Employee Handbook

There’s no such thing as a final edition of your employee handbook. You’ll update and revise the handbook as necessary when policies change or need to be clarified, and also when laws change. Make sure that you’re keeping up with any updates or additions to employment law so that your handbook can reflect the changes. In many cases, it’s better to start with a broad handbook and then expand and add detail over time. As long as you’re covering your legal bases (it’s best to consult a lawyer), you don’t have to worry about your handbook getting you in trouble.

Employee Feedback: How Do Netflix and Pixar Deliver It?

Learn the exact methods Netflix and Pixar use for delivering feedback to their employees!

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Employee feedback: A key to successful employee performance

Providing feedback to employees is an essential component of every successful and productive company culture. Delivering feedback regularly helps to make sure that employees are on the right track and achieving their goals as targeted.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t utilize this powerful management tool. The Globoforce study found that 65 percent of employees say they’d like to receive more feedback than they currently get.

Recent Gallup research finds that only about one in four employees “strongly agree” that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them – or that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.

So how can you ensure providing regular and useful feedback to employees in your company? Learn from the leading companies! Let’s examine the methods Netflix and Pixar use for delivering feedback to their employees.

Pixar’s method for delivering employee feedback

Plussing is Pixar’s magic formula for giving feedback. Plussing has played a game-changing role at the film company Pixar. The general guideline is that you may only criticize an idea if you also add a constructive suggestion. Hence the name plussing.

Here’s an example:

An animator working on “Toy Story 3” shares her rough sketches and ideas with the director. Instead of criticizing the sketch, the director will build on the starting point by saying something like: “I like Woody’s eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?”

Netflix’s method for delivering employee feedback

Stop-Start-Continue is another employee feedback model that was popularized by Netflix. In this drill, each person tells a colleague one thing they should start doing, one thing they should stop doing, and one thing they’re doing really well and should keep doing.

Netflix also created a system for sending “Stop, Start, Continue” feedback to anyone at the company once a year. The company picked an annual feedback day and asked that everybody send their comments, in “Stop, Start, Continue” format to everyone they had feedback for.

For those who want to know more

If you’re looking for more great tips for managing employees, sign up for our FREE 7 days email course: Short Leaderships Tips for Managers!

8 Golden Rules for Giving Positive & Productive Feedback at Work

Learn how to give meaningful, positive and productive feedback at workplace!

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The importance of positive feedback at workplace

According to Gallup’s research, giving an effective positive feedback at workplace leads to higher employee engagement, productivity, improved retention and greater profitability. Thus, every manager should learn how to give meaningful positive feedback.

When employees are given positive feedback regularly, they feel recognized and valued and are thus more engaged. Giving a positive, stand alone feedback to employees also helps building workplace relationships. As a result, your employees are more loyal and stay with your company longer.

Thus, every manager that wants to build and lead a successful team should learn how to give effective positive feedback to employees. If you become a pro at giving a positive feedback, you have to learn the proven techniques for giving positive feedback.

Tips for giving meaningful and productive positive feedback

Most people think that giving positive feedback is simple. However, simply saying “Nice job!” isn’t enough. If you want to give a meaningful, productive feedback that will reinforce positive behavior, follow these 8 golden rules:

1. Your feedback should be genuine

Give positive feedback to your employees when you have a concrete reason. Be direct and honest.

2. Your feedback should be timely

Make sure that your feedback is timely, given in-the moment. When you see it, praise it!

3. Your feedback should be specific

Avoid giving vague praise and say exactly what your employee did that you find commendable. Your feedback should be crystal clear and to the point.

4. Your feedback should be focused on effort

Focus on your employees’ effort and behavior (what they do) rather than on their personality traits or talent (what they’re like).

5. Frame your feedback in bigger context

Frame your employees’ accomplishments in a bigger context. Explain the impact of their achievement on others and link it to your company’s bottom line.

6. Use the appropriate body language

Make sure to smile, keep an eye contact and use appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures.

7. Amplify your feedback with a gesture

Go for a walk in the nearby park, grab a coffee or a box of candies and celebrate!

8. Personalize your feedback

Tailor your positive feedback to each of your employees. Some might enjoy being in the spotlight, while others prefer private, one-on-one praise.

Learn more on delivering positive feedback at work

If you’re looking for more great tips on delivering positive feedback at work, check out: 8 Examples of Giving Positive Feedback to Employees.