The Employee Handbook’s Impact on Culture

We tend to look at employee handbooks as a book of rules. But it doesn’t have to be all about compliance.

A handbook should be the tool that explains everything about the culture of an organization. It is part guidebook, part legacy. When an employee understands your organization’s philosophy – how YOU view the “bigger picture” – you can help them better understand why you want them to adhere to the rules outlined in the handbook. When your employees understand the why’s, instead of just the how’s, they will be more likely to comply with your standards and buy-in to the culture – resulting in a better level of engagement.

Here are some ways to ensure your employee handbook will impact your culture:

  1. The way it is written: Make sure the wording and formatting match your organizations communication style.
  2. Transparency: Share your core values, vision, and address business challenges. Include sections in your handbook that express you organization’s overall business philosophy (e.g. volunteer policies, referral bonuses).
  3. List your company’s unique offerings: Include the things that make your employees love working for you.
  4. Apply respect and care to your policies: Keep your handbook updated. Your attention to your handbook will make others to pay attention too.
  5. Make sure it is concise and credible: Always have attorney review for compliance and fairness. Be sure to include details in policies.
  6. Make it easily accessible: Don’t put it up on the shelf somewhere to collect dust. You should have an electronic version that is stored in a shared and secure environment.


The employee handbook is something every person at your organization will read at the start of their employment. It should reflect what makes you a great place to work. Your company culture is more than just rules and compensation; your handbook can be too.

About the Author: Kym Hess is a HR Business Partner at HR Collaborative. To learn more about Kym, connect with her on LinkedIn.

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