Should I Have a Company Handbook?

May 14, 2018

Leveraging Your Ideology to Achieve Success

When working with clients, I’m often asked the question, “Should I have a company handbook?” 

The simple answer? Absolutely! 

The common assumption is that your average company handbook is full of logistical tedium and boilerplate legalese. From communicating your benefits package, employees’ rights, and obligations with federal and state laws, to ensuring key company policies are clearly articulated, company handbooks are full of important topics that don’t always make for the most exciting reading.

However, if crafted carefully, I’ve found that your company handbook presents a powerful opportunity for you to reinforce your company culture. With this document, you can provide your employees the template they need to be productive individuals and team players.

The Recipe for a Compelling Company Handbook

It’s important to make a strong impression with your new hires or candidates you are recruiting. The best way to make a lasting impression is to begin by telling the story of how your company got started. As we’ve discussed before, everyone loves a good story, complete with a hero that overcomes the odds to find success and conquer those difficult obstacles. Your company should have such a story, and you should want people to hear it – both employees and your customers. And it’s this story that tees you up perfectly to segue into your Core Ideology.

Make the Case for Your Core Ideology

According to Jim Collins in Built to Last, having a core ideology serves as the glue that binds your company together during both the good and bad times. It’s made up of two components: 

1. Your Core Purpose:

o “What greater good are we bringing to the world?”

o “What are the reasons why we get out of bed in the morning?”

2. Your Core Values: The handful of fundamental rules that guide everything you do.

Your company handbook is the perfect opportunity for you to explain your Core Purpose and Core Values. Use them to describe the lifeblood of the company, while also detailing the programs you’ve established to ensure everyone flourishes. You can also outline key aspects of your strategy as well, including your:

o Vision

o Mission

o Key differentiator

Communicating your core ideology is essential. It’s a living, breathing thing that shouldn’t be limited to the pages of your handbook – it should be visible throughout your organization.

Set Clear Expectations

Your company handbook is an excellent place for you to clearly communicate the expectations for your employees, managers, and the company as a whole. I want to emphasize that these expectations are more than just simple procedures to be followed – they should represent how everyone can directly contribute to the growth and success of the company.

Hence, because you already outlined your company culture in the handbook, you can now tie your expectations back into the culture by stating what you expect from your employees to maintain it.

A Guide for Everyday Interactions

Your employees should feel comfortable knowing they have a resource to turn to in times of need. Whether they have general questions that need answers or want to report a violation (whether human resources, ethics or anything in between), the company handbook should provide them with a roadmap for a finding a resolution to their issue. This also works to reinforce your company culture by empowering employees to resolve problems before they become much larger issues.

By taking the time to be thoughtful about what you include, your company handbook can go from a run-of-the-mill document to a living, breathing display of your company culture and core ideology.

Need help crafting your company handbook? Give me a call! I’d love to help you strengthen your company culture by telling better stories and communicating more effectively with your employees.