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Chances are, no one in your organization would describe your employee handbook as “fun,” and you’d be lucky if everyone actually reads the whole thing.  A handbook doesn’t have to be a lengthy, boring document full of a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo – follow the lead of the organizations who are taking a fresh approach to their handbooks and make updates to turn your handbook into a relevant, engaging, and fun read for new employees.

Shorten It

You don’t need to take it to the extreme that Nordstrom has (their handbook is one sentence) but you can shorten it to include only the most relevant pieces of information employees need to digest.  If your handbook is 50+ pages long, I can guarantee that important information is going to get lost.  These policies are legally essential to include; other policies you might typically include in a handbook might be better placed on a company intranet, or made available electronically, or in some other format that doesn’t clog up the message of your manual.

Add Graphics and Colors

In our day and age of adult coloring and infographics, adding some visual effects to your handbook can increase the ease of understanding and readability of your policies.  For example, you could include an infographic on what to do/how to report a potential case of harassment or discrimination.  Or you could add pictures to illustrate appropriate vs. inappropriate work attire.  If you’re wondering how it can be done successfully, take a page out of Zingerman’s Deli handbook, a deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan that was awarded the title of “Best Employee Manual in the World” by Inc.com.  It’s gotten so much hype that the company actually sells it as company merchandise!  Would there be any public demand for your handbook if you put it on sale as is?

Reflect Your Culture

Unless you work in a law firm, the verbiage of your employment policies likely doesn’t reflect your culture.  With so much of HR’s focus on improving employee experience, the manual should be a part of that conversation.  If you’ve got a more progressive culture, try to make your handbook sound conversational rather than informational – here’s an example of a shortened, conversational “general rules & regulations policy”:

Our company hires professionals that we expect will act… professionally.  If for some reason that doesn’t happen we have a progressive discipline policy that will address any bad behavior, poor performance, attendance issues, or other violations.

Progressive discipline means you will receive multiple warnings before we let you go.  However, depending on the severity of the issue, one or more of the steps might be skipped, and for extremely severe violations, termination might happen after the first offense.

By making a policy sound like you’re chatting with a friend, your employees may feel like they’re working at a friendlier place.

Can your employee handbook be freshened up – either with a policy review or changing the look and feel to be more fun?  Purple Ink can help!

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is a former member of the Purple Ink team. She has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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