What are the company rules for employees
How an employee handbook helps build the corporate culture
An employee handbook is an important document that should not be missing in any company. There are many reasons to have one and as many articles on the internet explaining those reasons.
But instead of repeating the arguments of others, I would rather talk about how an employee handbook can be used not only to represent company guidelines and legal requirements, but also to build a company culture.
Bring the 'employee' back into the employee handbook
As others have noted, an employee handbook allows you to address various topics:
- Company rules and principles
- Legal Guidelines and How to Follow Them
- Procedures and processes (e.g. how and where to archive files)
While this content is certainly helpful to employees and should be part of any manual, it primarily serves the interests of the company. And what about employee interests? Companies understand that in order to be successful, they must address their customers' needs (imagine what IKEA building instructions would look like without addressing the customer's need for a simple, visual representation). One could argue that the same principle applies to documents that have the employee in focus. So focus on the needs of the reader rather than the needs of the company. You will find that this approach has the potential to significantly influence your corporate culture.
Introduce and build a corporate culture
A central part of any onboarding process is bringing new employees on board, and this process is largely responsible for how a newcomer settles into the corporate culture. A company manual that keeps an eye on employees and their needs can provide a lot of orientation here.
If you devote any part of your manual to topics like
- Company and team values
- Communication rules (e.g. etiquette)
- general goals (e.g. the vision that everyone is working towards - for us this means, for example, helping others to work better together)
then you can easily pass these aspects of corporate culture on to your employees.
One of the first sentences in the K15t Software employee handbook is "Play as a Team." Why? Because this explains one of the most important corporate values to new colleagues. Just through this one short sentence, both new and long-term employees are repeatedly made aware of this corporate culture.
Actions are more important than words, of course. But an employee handbook gives you the opportunity to really involve employees and to motivate them to live the values written down in their everyday work. How do you do that? By describing how employees can contribute to and benefit from company values. One example of this is the social commitment that we live at K15t Software. We have included the description of the Pledge 1% project, which explains how employees can participate in this project. This is how every team member experiences and shapes our corporate culture.
However, just like an employee handbook, a company culture is not a static structure. It evolves as the company grows and changes. But this also enables you to start small. Start by adding a company value or two to the employee handbook. That's how I started too. When you feel you need more, just add them to the next version. The most important thing is to recognize the impact an employee handbook can have on corporate culture and then build on that.
An employee handbook is a living document that is constantly being revised. At K15t Software, we update ours regularly and thus improve teamwork. But how do you organize a document that is constantly changing and yet needs to remain available? We talk about this challenge in our post: Why I use Confluence to create an employee handbook.
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