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Help Me Write a Better Employee Handbook

Your workers are the lifeblood of your organization, so it's important that your employee handbook provides them with the direction they need to do a good job. To make your employee handbook more readable, try these helpful hints:

1) Use Positive Language

You need an employee handbook because you want to make sure that your employees do their jobs within the rules of your company. It seems straightforward, but you must be careful about the way you word your policies. Too much negativity will discourage your employees and cause them to see you as the bad guy.

Whenever possible, state regulations in a positive way. Compare the following sentence pairs:

"Always be punctual for work."

"Don't ever be late for work."

"Only make personal calls during your breaks."

"Do not make personal calls while you're on the clock."

Each pair states one rule, but the first sentence is much more positive than the second in both cases. Although you may feel negativity makes a stronger statement, your employees may find it condescending and oppressive. Choose to state things positively in your employee handbook for a more content work force.

2) When Negativity is Unavoidable

Of course, there are situations in which you must be negative. For example, you'll want to discuss the repercussions for unacceptable employee behavior in your handbook. In such a case, simply be direct about the negative consequences of bad actions. Your employees will better understand your disciplinary policies if you explain them in a straightforward manner.

Remember that it's always good to include your incentive policies for good behavior as well as your disciplinary action for bad behavior. Talking about your company's employee rewards in your handbook will make the negative parts a lot more palatable.

3) Use Simple, Correct English

Complicated words and run-on sentences are difficult for many people to understand. Therefore, stick to simple English in your employee handbook, and keep your sentences short and to the point. No matter how upbeat you make your handbook, it will likely still not be a riveting read for your employees, so also keep its overall length as short as possible.

A very important note: make sure that spelling and grammar are 100% correct throughout the entire document. Use the spelling and grammar checkers in your word processor and have someone proofread your employee handbook for you if you feel you can't catch all the mistakes yourself. To get your meaning across and avoid misunderstandings, you simply must correct every last grammar and spelling error.

Not only is correct grammar important for reading comprehension, but it also says something about your credibility as an employer. If you require your employees to read a handbook that contains obvious grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and typos, they may question your competence.

Of course, many people are not masters of the English language, but as an employer who wants respect, it's best to make your handbook a reflection of your demand for careful, thorough work. If you hold your employee handbook to the same standard you hold your employees, you will find your workers take their rules – and their boss – a lot more seriously.



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