#Nextchat: Not Your Grandparents' Handbooks


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your organization’s employee handbook?

Does it exude warmth and friendliness and promote the spirit of your organization? Does it highlight your diverse and inclusive culture and your commitment to volunteerism? Does it use technology to share employees’ stories? Does it impart a sense of “family” among your workers? If your organization’s handbook is basically the 1986 original, only updated with the latest HR acronyms, then the answer to these questions is probably not. 

Smart employers that understand the growing importance of employer branding and the promotion of workplace culture are throwing out their traditional employee handbooks and replacing them with all-new versions that engage workers, boost morale—and even serve to attract new talent. The new class of employee handbooks has evolved into an expression of an organization’s personality with photos, videos and inspiring anecdotes.

The SHRM Online article Innovative Employers Are Using Creative Handbooks To Engage Employees by Kathy Gurchiek cites several examples of organizations that have scrapped the traditional manual and opted for more innovative ways to showcase organizational ethos.

For instance, The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., created a digital handbook “that is open to the public and doubles as a great piece of employer branding.”

Other organizations such as GuideSpark “use YouTube-style videos to deliver information on medical benefits and other topics to its employees.”

If you’re thinking about remodeling your organization’s employee handbook, the first step in the new construction process is to understand its basic purpose. Will it be a resource for employees or a compliance tool? Beth Zoller, a legal editor at XpertHR, an online compliance tool for HR professionals and employers, and a former employment law attorney who specializes in advising employers and HR with respect to employee handbooks, says, “It’s best if the manual is designed with both reasons in mind.” 

After understanding your aim for the new handbook, then it will be time to unleash the creativity. In her blog post Spicing Up Your Employee Handbook, Zoller shares several ideas for inspiration and recommends that employers “give it a little pizzazz by adding color, graphics, videos, pictures and font.”

Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on February 8 for #Nextchat with special guests Beth Zoller (@bethzoller1) and Kathy Gurchiek (@SHRMwriter). We’ll chat about how to transform your handbook and give it a new look. 

Q1. What are some innovative ideas for updating a traditional hard copy handbook?

Q2. When creating or recreating an employee handbook, what are some important considerations during the design/redesign process?

Q3. What are some creative ideas for using You Tube or other forms of video in employee handbooks?

Q4. What are some innovative ways to use social media (Twitter, Facebook, Slack) in your digital employee handbook?

Q5. How can an employee handbook be designed to help externally promote and showcase your workplace culture?

Q6. What are some fun and creative ways that HR can involve employees in the handbook redesign process?

Q7. How do you conduct employee handbook training for employees and supervisors?

Q8. What are some unique ways to make employee handbook training more engaging and creative?

 If you missed this chat on Feb. 8 you can read all the tweets in the RECAP here



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