A corporate handbook contains a company’s operating procedures. It should be delivered to a worker on their first day in a new job. This is a leadership opportunity for SME owners to use a corporate handbook to establish important policies, communicate what is expected in the workplace and to show that you care about protecting the rights of employees. Take this opportunity to get your new staff off to a flying start.
Different companies have different cultures. Some have no culture others have strict rules. Your company handbook gives you the opportunity to create and influence your company culture. Revamping your corporate handbook gives you the opportunity to change your corporate culture. Here are some aspects to consider in formulating or revamping your company handbook. It should be:
The choice is yours. Pick one or more of these themes and get going revamping your company handbook.
If you are lacking inspiration, then borrow a leaf out of a leading company’s corporate handbook.
Netflix’s Employee Handbook comes in a unique format: a slide presentation that leads the viewer through the different aspects of Netflix’s culture. Netflix’s company culture differs from their peers and their corporate handbook trades colour for shades and playful humour for blunt statements. To keep the corporate handbook user friendly, each slide is limited to a couple of sentences, pictures, and a few bullet points. The text is direct and straightforward with lots of examples so that the reader knows exactly what being a Netflix employee is all about. It’s informative and easy to understand. Why not revamp your own corporate handbook in this style?
Making things clear provides guidance for the do’s and don’ts in your workplace. What the rules are and what constitutes ‘crossing the line’ of acceptable behaviour is valuable.
Setting limits is important. Setting standards provides guidance and allows recourse in cases that may be ambiguous or contentious. Grounds for discipline or dismissal, sexual harassment and any non-compliant behaviour can be laid down in black and white. Then there are no excuses for breaking the rules. But make sure your staff read your corporate handbook by simply asking them for feedback on it. What do they like about it, what is useful and even how they would improve it?
Employment policies and HR policies will help your business achieve its medium- and long-term goals. Policies should be aligned with these business goals and should be updated and revised as your goals change.
In the fast moving economies in SE Asia, this may prove difficult and seem unnecessary, so why not step back and look at the big picture. What do you need and what don’t you need? If you don’t have an HR department in your SME, then your leadership challenge is to formulate and communicate your company policies clearly to your team.
As the world of business becomes digital, very quickly, why not take advantage of online platforms and social media to position and distribute your corporate handbook? The Motley Fool, a provider of financial advice and stock recommendations in the US, turned its corporate manual into an interactive website. “It’s open to the public and doubles as a great piece of employer branding,” said Laurie Sargent, co-founder of Stories Inc.
Handbooks should be easy to access as well as easy to understand. Fill your online handbook up with videos and colour. Make it interactive. Don’t forget to add a feedback mechanism online too.
If you don’t have a corporate handbook, make one. If you do have a corporate handbook, think about revamping it. Make it current, aligned and even on-lined. Add colour to your business with some creative flair but don’t forget to deliver those core values in your messaging.