Does your employee handbook speak to your core values?

by Nov 5, 2018

Picture this.

It’s your first day at your new job. You’re nervous and unsure of what to expect, but can’t wait to get started!

You get there on time, and of course HR goes right into paperwork. Bummed, but not deterred, you start filling out the necessary evil that is new hire paperwork.

Finally you sign that last form. Your hand is cramping, your fingers covered in ink. Then BAM! HR slaps a 100+ page employee handbook on your desk, tells you to read it, and heads back to his or her office.

Yes, the dreaded employee handbook. It’s the first task organizations tend to give their new hires, and though it has the power to set  a positive tone for new hires, it’s often underutilized.

You can use your handbook to set the tone for your new hires, but most organizations just download something off the internet. Especially if you’re proud of your organization’s culture, your handbook should exemplify your core values.

Here are some examples of how your employee handbook could be in direct violation of your core values:

Integrity. Having the core value of integrity but requiring employees to follow rigid guidelines that insinuate bad intentions is controversial (e.g., Asking for a death certificate for bereavement leave). I mean, how can an employee have the opportunity to actually exemplify integrity if the organization already views them with suspicion?

Fun. If your handbook reads like stereo instructions, it probably gives the opposite impression of fun. If you say your organization is fun, you have to put your money where your mouth is. Add a pop of color and some pictures to actually show you value enthusiasm.

Innovation. For one, it’s not exactly an “innovative” core value, now is it? It also means that your handbook should be different and show how creative the organization can be. It could even be something simple like delivering the handbook via drone to the employees desk. Now that’s innovative!

Act like an owner. This core value sounds amazing, but consider what it really means. An owner likely has a flexible schedule, so if you have a policy in your handbook that requires rigid scheduling or makes requesting time off unnecessarily difficult, you’re failing to treat employees like owners.

Honestly I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Core values can only drive a positive culture if you engrain them into anything and everything the organization does, including that darn handbook.

I challenge you to review your core values, and take the time to actually read your handbook.

If you find you need to make some changes, I’ve got more information on this subject on my webinar “Culture and Compliance: Why & How Both Drive Business Success” on November 7th at 10 am PST.

I will be providing tips and tricks for creating a handbook that not only ensures compliance but also speaks to your culture (among many other useful nuggets on other HR topics).



P.S. Seriously, you don’t want to miss it!

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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