By Katie Evans-Reber of Gusto

Employee handbooks aren’t just unofficial paperweights, strewn across desk after desk. From safety kits to culture manifestos, they serve a bunch of purposes, along with being an excellent way to crystallize policies and train new hires. While there are no explicit laws that say companies need to have employee handbooks, it has become a best practice to tuck one into your arsenal of HR tools.

So what does the current handbook scene look like? Most mid-sized companies have them, but only a quarter of small businesses are in the same boat. However, there are a ton of reasons why tiny employers should jump on the handbook train. Below are five big reasons why you should think about creating a handbook of your very own, no matter your shape or size:


1. It shields your company from shenanigans.

A well-written and well-followed handbook is evidence that your company doesn’t discriminate against employees and knows and follows the law. When drafted correctly, a handbook isn’t seen as a legal contract, which is why it’s so important to get professional help in drafting one.

These days, larger companies are much more likely to get outside guidance with their handbooks. In fact, over three out of four employers with 50 to 100 employees have lawyers or HR experts develop their handbooks, compared to 46 percent of companies with nine or less employees.


2. It can help you satisfy a bunch of state requirements.

There aren’t any federal requirements for having a handbook, but many policies can vary dramatically depending on which state you live in. And in each state, there are specific notice requirements that can often be met by slipping a carefully written policy into your handbook.


3. It’s the first step in building a great culture.

Nearly 90 percent of small employers believe that promoting a community feeling at work is key to their success. That’s why it’s a great opportunity to let your culture radiate inside all the policies you’re creating. Employee handbooks aren’t strictly company culture documents, however, you can definitely string the two together to create one powerful guide.


4. It opens up the lines of communication.

With everything laid out in one central place, a handbook can help employees head straight to the person in charge or the exact document they need. A solid handbook is also a great conversation starter. The National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB, advises companies to be clear that handbook policies aren’t meant to stop people talking about the terms and conditions of their jobs. Instead, a handbook is the perfect way to get workplace conversations started.


5. It’s the most comprehensive guide your team will ever read.

Since your own company handbook is written specifically for your business, it loops together all the rules your team needs to be successful at work. Plus, it helps new hires warm up to the company since they can find their answers right away.


Once you realize why it’s so important to have an employee handbook, you’ll feel better about pushing such a gargantuan HR task forward. Now is the chance to organize your policies so you can use them to capture the whole reason you’re in business. And before you know it, those handbook paperweights will become a thing of the past.


Gusto’s Head of HR, Katie Evans-Reber, is on a mission to create a world where work empowers a better life. By making the most complicated business tasks simple and personal, Gusto is reimagining payroll, benefits and HR for modern companies.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.


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