Are You Making the Most Of Your Employee Handbook?
Written by Terri Shadle
Quick question for you before I start: Where is your employee handbook?
I am willing to bet that it’s in a dusty binder on the bottom of your bookshelf at home or in a desk drawer at work beneath a stack of folders and your gym bag. Maybe you’ve been working at your company for a couple of years and you don’t know where it is at all.
Which leads me to my second question: If you do know where it is, how often have you looked at your employee handbook?
Can’t remember? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Too often companies treat employee handbooks as something they give out of obligation instead of a dynamic touchpoint between employees and employers that introduces and reinforces company culture. It’s probably printed, so it’s not that convenient to use, search or update. You probably looked at it once but primarily rely on your human resources rep to answer any of your questions regarding benefits or policies.
At Nxtbook Media, we know that the employee handbook can be more than a mere collection of policies, rules and benefits. We see it as an an essential resource for employees that should also depict company culture, values, mission, and branding. Think about the potential reach and influence with new and current employees with this content; every new employee gets one; every current employee has one. Is your organization maximizing your handbook’s potential?
Enter Astro Machine Works, a local manufacturing company that specializes in custom machinery and precision parts. They knew their printed handbook was falling short of achieving a great user experience for their employees, which is why we were so excited to partner with them to create their digital employee handbook and to flesh out their values, vision, and mission. Our goals were to create a handbook that was:
- Customized and unique to Astro Machine Works
- Reflective of company culture and values in a new, interactive way
- Easy to use, as well as searchable, for employees and their families
- Valuable for the onboarding process for new employees
- Reduced the amount of work for their human resources team
- Easily updated
A Unique Brand Experience for Employees
Our design services team collaborated with Astro Machine Works to make sure that our design was customized to their company. As such, we:
- Used their brand color palette and included their logo on every page.
- Branded each section with illustrated machine parts. The illustrations reflected not only Astro Machine Works’ bread and butter offering but also their informal culture and emphasis on craftsmanship.
- Placed photos of their facilities and employees throughout the piece.
- Collected employee quotes about programs and benefits that are important and valuable to them.
Conveying Company Culture with Interactive Design
Values, vision, and mission statements are essential to creating a filter and framework to help employees interpret, understand and support company policies, benefits, and rules. As such, we placed an introductory section in the beginning of the handbook and designed:
- An interactive timeline of Astro Machine Works development as a company
- Dynamic and eye-catching animations of their corporate structure, values, vision, and mission
- A slideshow featuring their community outreach program.
Convenient to Use and Easy to Navigate
Another great advantage of the digital handbook provided over print is that employees and their families are able to access it at home, work, or on the go. The enlarged font used for the body text made it easy to read on mobile devices and prompts on the pages and toolbar made it simple to navigate. We also enabled a search feature so that employees, as well as family members, could quickly find what they are looking for.
Increasing Efficiency for The Human Resources Team
So far I have covered design, culture, and ease of use, but probably some of the most important reasons Astro Machine Works created a digital employee handbook with us is that it helped increase the efficiency of their human resources team by:
- No longer requiring the replacement of lost employee handbooks
- Making it easier to update content or photos and replace pages in comparison to a print version
- Reducing questions from employees because the handbook is easy to search and always at hand on computers and mobile devices
- Allowing documents that frequently change to be hosted within the handbook and linked to from calls to action designed on the page
- Sharing and printing functionality made answering questions easier
- For example, an employee has a question about the bereavement policy. They can send the link to that page in the handbook directly to the HR rep, along with their question.
Fun and Informative Onboarding Experience
The digital employee handbook provided a great way to introduce new employees to the company and make them feel like part of the team. To that end we included the following features for Astro Machine Works:
- A welcome video from the President
- A quiz that encouraged the employee to engage and review the handbook and rewards them with a prize
The handbook was also sent to prospective employees or new employees ahead of time so that they can come prepared with any questions for their interview or on their first day, respectively.
Employee handbooks are a necessity of the workplace but are often overlooked for their strategic reach and impact. The work we were able to accomplish for Astro Machine Works is proof-positive an employee handbook doesn’t have to be regulated to the back shelf. Don’t let it be just a stack of paper without personality or style. Don’t let it be a missed opportunity to create a touchpoint with employees that helps communicate who you are and what you care about as a company.
Make it easy to use. Make it well-designed. Make it emblematic of your culture and brand. Make it you.
It was wonderful working with Nxtbook. The process was smooth and efficient and they gave a great level of expertise to the process and branding of the finished product. Our handbook is now a reflection of our culture and gives prospective and current team members a glimpse into Astro Machine Works.
Charissa Gift, Human Resources Manager