The Employee Handbook: A Modern Approach

An employee handbook is an important document for organizations of all sizes as it outlines the company’s operating policies, procedures, and expectations. It is a definitive resource to protect employees and the company from liability, provide clarity on communication channels, and save HR time on updating the workforce with ever-changing employment policies.

However, the employee handbook should not be a book of rules to enforce on your team. It should encourage proactivity and positivity and showcase the organization’s benefits while avoiding a complex monologue tone with restrictive or overly strict policies.

Extracts from Lars Schmidt’s book, Redefining HR, explains the approach succinctly:

“Employee handbooks, guides, and manifestos have come a long way since the compliance-driven versions of legacy HR. HR can’t control every facet of every aspect of the employee experience. It’s not about authority through ownership, it’s about engagement through empowerment. When burdened with bureaucratic policy and program shackles that stifle innovation and impact, employees are less likely to feel empowered.”

So, what should go into an employee handbook, and what is the best format?

Employee Handbook Contents

Although an employee handbook generally covers a range of topics, it should be kept concise and simple and tailored to your organization’s culture. The following is not an absolute list of topics, but rather offers a guideline that covers most bases.

It is important to note that your employee policies set out specifically for staff in Singapore must comply with the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) employment practices.

  • Welcome/Mission and Vision Statement

Starting off with a welcoming message to your team, a brief history of the company, and its mission and vision statements provide a cohesive narrative on the organization’s philosophy. This is a positive introduction especially for new employees to feel welcome and informed rather than feeling they’re getting a rulebook thrown at them.

  • Health and Safety Policy

This is a necessary segment for your employee handbook. For the welfare of everyone at work, you should explicitly describe the procedures in the event of an accident, fire, or natural disaster, where the first aid is located, and who is the designated health and safety officer.

  • Leave Policies

All leave policies should be outlined and clear, so employees know their rights when it comes to taking absence for holidays, childcare, maternity, paternity, sickness, public holidays, as well as unpaid leave.

  • Employee Behaviour and Code of Conduct

When the company defines boundaries and expectations, it provides a fair structure for everyone to work within without there being any perceived bias. You can include subjects related to dress code, working hours, smoking, social media usage, and equal opportunity, anti-harassment, and anti-discrimination policies.

  • Remuneration and Benefits

This would be a generalized section that explains when salaries and wages are paid, the overtime policy, appraisal processes, list of employee benefits, and incentives offered based on eligible criteria.

  • Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Policies

It should be evident what information the company deems as confidential and which must not be distributed or shared with third parties for any reason whatsoever. This will cover things like client details, sales figures, product development, and business plans.

  • Discipline, Termination, and Complaint Processes

Processes around disciplinary action and termination must be transparent as well as what constitutes grounds for dismissal. In the same breath, you want to give your employees a protected channel through which to make complaints so any grievances can be resolved constructively and with the proper support.

  • Disclaimers

You should also include a disclaimer that notes the content and policies in the employee handbook are subject to change and the latest version supersedes any other documents that were made available to employees.

Digital Output Advantages

Because the employee handbook is an evolving document that is kept updated in accordance with employment regulations, there are several advantages to having this in a digital format. It is much easier to maintain it in a document management system (DMS) together with other crucial HR documents.

With KRIS software solutions, your digital employee handbook is stored in a secure central repository that maintains a revision history of every edit, while ensuring the latest version is accessible by distributing a link to employees. Integration with digital signatures also adds easy verification for employees to electronically sign the updated handbook after reading.

A well-developed digital employee handbook ensures clarity across the board so employees fully understand their rights and responsibilities from day one.






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