Your first employee handbook: what to look out for


This guest post was written by Jamie Costello, a Business & Communications student based in Manchester, drawing on experience working alongside Manchester solicitors and business law specialists Gorvins. As a freelance writer, Jamie writes on topics ranging from employment to strategy planning for entrepreneurs. Jamie can be found on Twitter at @Jamie88Costello.

Some new jobs will provide you with an employee handbook. The majority of the time it tends to be the larger businesses that publish these to their staff, but if you happen to be provided one, it’s good to know what you should be looking out for to protect yourself in your role. Here’s an outline of what you should be wary of.

Standard of Conduct

When you first step into a place of work, your main aim is to remain professional and conduct yourself appropriately. On occasion, some staff members can become laid back with their attitude within the working environment. For example, dress codes are provided as a guide on what attire is deemed appropriate in the workplace. In some cases your colleagues may adjust their attire for their own comfort, such as some staff choosing to wear all black trainers rather than shoes that would otherwise hurt their feet. If this is the case, you may be inclined to do the same, but be sure that the attire you choose is within reason. Read thoroughly through the rest of the conduct section so you’re aware of how you should conduct yourself at work, as this discusses disciplinary action and related policies. Serious breaches of conduct can escalate, with some cases becoming legal matters.

Work Environment Policies

Work environment policies are in place so that the health and safety and wellbeing of staff are taken into consideration. On the office grounds, you should be instructed on break out areas, health and safety regulations, and your working hours. You’ll need to comply with these policies so that your company can work efficiently, productively, and safely. Other policies that may be included in this section are those on company equipment and the procedure on working from home.

Performance Reviews

A salary helps us to get by in life and if there’s any way we can earn more whilst in our role then we’ll be sure to grasp the opportunity. As employees, we’re always looking for ways to earn more money if possible and the main way we can show this is through our performance. Refer to the employee handbook to understand when and how performance reviews are conducted in the company. Generally, performance reviews tend to take place around 3 months after you’ve been in your new role. If you have concerns or points you wish to raise about your performance, you should be able to speak to your team leader or manager about this. Ideally you’ll identify a series of steps to follow and integrate into your everyday work, making it easier to show why you deserve the well-earned pay rise or a more senior position in the company.

Employee Benefits

We all love to get a few perks from our job. It’s a great way to know just how much your company cares for both the work-life balance of their staff and their long-term future. Benefits don’t only come in tangible prizes or gifts: your company may have benefits like a pension fund that they contribute to or additional insurance benefits to do with health and disability. The employee handbook will provide initial guidance on whether or not a pension provision is available for staff members. If not, it’s likely that this will be provided separately through an information booklet or letter provided by the pension fund company. It’ll provide information on how you can qualify for them, when they’re expected to kick-in once you start, and any policy numbers that you may require in order to sign up for them.

Issues At Work

It’s likely that you’ll eventually encounter issues that affect your work life, and these can easily interrupt performance, morale and general health. As a staff member, you should be able to identify what provisions are in place for you when you witness or experience issues at work. Your employer should have a department or individual who can provide support for when you’re finding it difficult to cope – they may have an HR department or a wellbeing officer that you can report to, so it’s important to take note of this as it’ll be included in your handbook.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advice, Develop your employability

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.