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Is your employee handbook a bestseller?

As the air starts to turn crisp and the leaves begin to fall, avid readers everywhere get all-a-twitter about the upcoming cozy reading months. But it's not just the Top Books of the Year that we should plan to catch up on. It's also the season for employers to dust off their employee handbooks to make sure they earn a 5-star rating from their employees, HR team, and employment attorney. Here are some ideas to turn your employee handbook into a bestseller, if it's not already.

Write the Book

Yes, you can drive a car without reading the manual first, but it sure comes in handy when something goes wrong or you can't figure out what that button is for. Same with employee handbooks. You can run your business without one, but what happens when an employee shows up late to work again, sporting their business casual pj's, and debating a coworker on their preference in the upcoming election? Employee handbooks are the guiding principles for your employees, letting them in on all the 'plot twists', 'world-building', and 'character development' of the organization.

"For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It's not

"integrity", it's "always do the right thing." Articulating our values as verbs gives us

a clear idea - we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation." ~ Simon Sinek


Have you ever slogged through the first 50 pages of a book in the hopes that the plot will pick up, only to DNF (did not finish) it from boredom? We don't want our employees to DNF the employee handbook. Get creative in the way you present your policies and procedures. Maybe you write it in the format of a novel like VALVe. Or Trello, who used their own list-making application to house their 'employee manual'. Take a look at your company culture or products and services you sell, and incorporate those into your handbook structure. See if you can keep your employees engaged until the very last page.


As exciting as it is to be shocked by the ending of a good whodunit, your employee handbook shouldn't be a mystery. First, make sure your handbook is readily available and assessable for all employees. When employees have questions about the vacation time or social media policies, the handbook should be the first place they turn; without needing to don their Sherlock Holmes hat and sleuth out its whereabouts. Once open, a good handbook is well-written and easy to navigate. Only the employee's most intricate of spells (questions) may need decoding from their HR wizard.

Historical Fiction

Like with most readers, to-be-read piles are constantly being shuffled to make room for the latest and greatest books. The same is true of employment laws. New laws are added, existing laws are changed, and with all these updates come revisions to your handbook. Having 'once upon a time' policies can lead to cliffhangers and potentially bad endings. A great time to review and make edits is towards the end of the year, prior to the new laws going into effect with the new year. And remember, an employee handbook should never be shelved in historical fiction.

Read the Book

So you've written a bestseller, now what? Get those handbooks into your readers' hands so they can read them. Host a signing event, in this case, an employee signing, where they can ask questions and acknowledge that they've read and understood the handbook. One engaging way to encourage employees to really read it is to turn it into a scavenger hunt. Provide them a list of clues where the solutions can only be found within the pages. Those that answer the clues correctly get a door prize.

The moral of this story is, your employee handbook can rank among the top ten bestsellers with a little intrigue and a well-defined storyline. The end.

If you would like us to do a little Fall cleaning of your employee handbook, email or give us a call. And don't forget to join in on all the employee handbook fun at our next interactive training, October 28 at 11:00 MT.