People Management

How to Write an Employee Handbook (With Free Template)

An employee handbook isn’t just a list of rules; it’s the playbook for your company’s culture and operations. Think of it as the go-to guide that spells out what you expect from your team and what they can expect from you. We whipped up a template to get you off to a flying start.

What Is an Employee Handbook? 

An employee handbook, or employee manual, is an essential guide that sets the stage for a successful workplace. From day one, it helps ensure everyone knows the ins and outs of daily operations and your company culture. A well-thought-out handbook is a foundation for your team’s success and satisfaction, making it a key tool in creating a positive workplace.

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What’s Included in an Employee Handbook? 

This valuable resource provides everything an employee needs to know about working at your company and the workplace culture. It includes your business’s core values and mission and detailed descriptions of your employment policies.

Your employee manual should also contain comprehensive information on benefits, health and safety protocols, and important legal compliance guidelines. Remember, its purpose is to help employees navigate life at your company.

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Components of an Employee Handbook

The components of an employee handbook provide a clear framework to ensure the entire company is on the same page and moving forward together. Here are the sections to consider.

  • About the company: Start with a welcome statement and share your mission, vision, and core values.
  • Employment basics: Detail the nature of employment (e.g., at-will employment), job classifications, work hours, and attendance expectations.
  • Code of conduct: Describe expected behavior, dress code, and safety protocol to maintain a professional work environment.
  • Workplace policies: Provide a detailed description of your company’s particular workplace policies, including anti-harassment, health and safety, and attendance.
  • Benefits: Explain your company’s benefits program and define what types of employees receive benefits.

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Customizing Your Employee Manual

Every company is unique, and your handbook should be, too. Customizations ensure it truly resonates with your team and captures your business’s spirit.

Use Your Brand Voice

Your handbook should reflect your company’s personality. Whether you maintain a formal and professional tone or opt for something more laid-back and friendly, ensure it reflects your brand’s unique voice and ethos. This way, your handbook doesn’t just communicate policies—it embodies the spirit of your organization.

Address Specific Office Needs

Consider the unique elements of your operations, industry, workforce, and work environment, whether remote, in-office, or hybrid. Customize your policies and procedures to address these aspects specifically.

For example, address remote work guidelines, office etiquette, hybrid scheduling practices, and whether the workplace has a business casual attire policy. This ensures the handbook is relevant, practical, and informative.

Consider Local Variations

If your company spans multiple locations, tailor parts of your handbook to align with local laws and regulations. This attention to detail helps avoid legal pitfalls. 

Highlight Your Company’s Unique Perks

Your employee handbook is ideal for sharing your employer value proposition (EVP). 

Whether it’s your flexible work-from-home policy, dedication to sustainability, or robust employee development programs, include these highlights in your handbook.

Policies Regarding Employee Conflicts

An employee handbook typically includes detailed policies on handling conflicts, specifying the steps employees and management should take to address disputes. This clear guidance helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that conflicts are handled fairly and efficiently, maintaining a harmonious work environment. 

Employee Performance Guidance

Your handbook should outline the procedures for initiating and conducting performance improvement plans (PIPs). This will help manage performance issues transparently and effectively support employees’ development and integration back into the team.

“An employee handbook isn’t just a guide; it’s a legal shield that protects the company.”

– Shivani Puri, Wizehire VP of People Ops

How to Write an Employee Handbook

As a reminder, writing an employee handbook involves thoughtfully identifying and explaining how your company runs. It’s a living document that combines legal compliance with your company’s unique culture and needs—a valuable and up-to-date resource for the entire organization.

  1. Start by outlining key sections that reflect your company’s operational and cultural framework (for example, work hours and benefits).
  2. Collaborate with legal, HR, and other company leaders to ensure your content accurately reflects current laws and company policies. 
  3. Use clear, concise language to make the handbook accessible and understandable to all employees.
  4. Incorporate your company’s ethos, mission, and values to personalize the content and foster a connection with team members. 
  5. Regularly update the handbook to ensure its relevance and alignment with evolving workplace norms and laws.

Sharing Your Handbook with Employees

Crafting an employee handbook is just the start—ensuring it gets read and understood is where the real magic happens.

  • Integrate the handbook into your onboarding process so every new hire engages with it from their first day.
  • Offer the handbook in multiple formats—think printed copies, downloadable PDFs, and on your workforce management system—so employees can access it in the way that suits them best.
  • Incorporate quizzes or quick assessments at the end of each section to test their understanding and make the learning process interactive.

Employee Handbook Template

This template makes it easy to set clear guidelines and expectations. Use this template to quickly craft a valuable resource supporting your company and employees.

[Company name] Employee Manual

Welcome to [Company name]! We’re glad you’re here! 

Now that you’re with us, we know you’re excited about [insert your company’s mission]

This document is designed to share more about what you can expect from us as we embark on this journey together. It is not designed as a contract of employment. 

[Executive Name], [Job Title]

About the Company

Mission: [Insert your company’s mission statement.]

Wizehire example: “We help small businesses grow with a better way to hire.”

Vision: [Write your company’s vision statement.]

Wizehire example: “We are a hiring platform that helps small businesses grow.” 

Core Values:[List your company’s core values]

Wizehire example: “Our values are the heart of everything we do at Wizehire. They define our commitment to our clients, how we work together as a team, and our vision for a world where every business on Main Street succeeds.”

Employment Basics

Timekeeping: [Use this section to outline your company’s procedures for reporting time worked.]

Payroll Schedule: [State your company’s payroll schedule, including how often employees will get paid (e.g. weekly, biweekly) and how they’ll get paid (e.g., direct deposit, check).]

Overtime: [Include your overtime policy, following applicable state, local, and federal regulations.]

At-Will Employment: [This statement explains that either the employee or the company may choose to terminate the employment relationship at any time for any nondiscriminatory cause.]

Equal Opportunity Employment (EEO): [State that you don’t discriminate against employees based on gender, age, sexual orientation, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, disability, or veteran status regarding hiring, promotions, and the workplace in general.]

Accommodation Policy: [This section discusses reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how employees can request accommodations.]

Labor Law Posters: [Tell employees where they can find labor law posters.]

I-9 Verification: [Outline the steps to complete the I-9 form, and when the form is due.]

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): [Outline how your company integrates DEI into its overall success.]

Wizehire example: “Wizehire is a company where people can show up as their full selves each day and can contribute to their best ability. We strive for a transparent environment where all voices are heard and welcomed. Thanks for being you and being here.“

Code of Conduct

Disclaimer: Check your local and state laws to ensure your handbook includes all the required employment policies. 

Respect: [Outline expected behaviors that promote a professional, respectful, and inclusive environment.]

Dress Code: [Outline your expectations on dress code, and note specific situations that may require a more formal dress standard such as client meetings.]

Technology: [Provide guidelines for using technology and the internet at your company, including your cell phone at work policy, corporate email usage policy, picture-taking policy, and cybersecurity best practices.]

Attendance: [Highlight the importance of being on time and present for work each shift, including what to do in emergencies and an overview of disciplinary actions for no-shows.]

Remote Work: [Outline your work-from-home policy, including who is eligible to work remotely, how often employees can work from home, communication expectations, and any technology requirements.]

Employee Relationships: [Provide guidelines on workplace relationships, fraternization, and employment of relatives to ensure that relationships between employees are appropriate and harmonious.]

Workplace Policies

Confidentiality and Data Protection: [Provide details about your employee privacy policy and tips for keeping information secure.]

For example, locking and securing confidential files, and using secure devices when viewing and storing confidential data.

Harassment and Violence: [Describe your policies on workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and workplace violence, including the process for reporting harassment or violence.]

Workplace Safety and Health: [Outline your company’s workplace safety and health policies, preventative actions, and managing emergencies.]

More policies to consider: 

  • Workplace visitors
  • Anti-bribery & corruption
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Protection of company property
  • Performance improvement plans

Exit Policies

Disciplinary Actions: [Explain the steps in your disciplinary action process.]

Termination: [Explain why an employee may be terminated (e.g. misconduct, poor performance, breach of contract), including details about final pay and benefits continuation.]


[Introduce which types of employees are eligible for your benefits program for instance employees and not contractors.]

Health Insurance: [Provide general information on the types of insurance programs you offer to employees and who they can contact for more details.]

Vacation Days: [Share how much paid vacation time is available to employees and how to request time off.]

Holiday Schedule: [List all company holidays or workplace closure dates for the upcoming year.] 

Family and Medical Leave Act: [If your company is subject to The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), consider an overview of when employees are eligible and how to request it.]

Other Types of Leave: [Explain the process for taking time off for sick leave, jury duty, new parent leave, voting leave, bereavement leave, or military leave, depending on your local laws.]

Resignation: [Explain your voluntary resignation policies, including when it’s considered automatic (i.e., in the case of job abandonment).]

Returning Company Property: [Explain your rules on returning company property and equipment after termination or resignation.]

Exit Interviews: [Include details about your exit interview process.]

Eligibility for Rehire: [Specify the conditions under which a former employee might be considered for rehire.]

Wize Words

Employee manuals provide important guidelines to teams. By embedding your handbook into the onboarding process and making it easily accessible, you turn what could be just another document into an essential part of your workplace culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an employee handbook required by law?

While providing an employee handbook is not legally mandated, it’s highly beneficial. In the U.S., state and federal regulations require that employers inform their staff about key employment details such as paid time off (PTO), sick leave policies, workplace rights, and protections. Compiling these mandatory disclosures and other company policies and procedures into a well-organized handbook ensures compliance and serves as a comprehensive resource for employees. 

What should you not include in an employee handbook?

When crafting an employee handbook, avoid including overly specific rules, dense legal jargon, inflexible policies, and promises of long-term employment that imply guaranteed job security. Ensure the language is inclusive and non-discriminatory, adhering to all anti-discrimination laws. Exclude irrelevant information to keep the handbook clear and concise. Regularly update it to reflect current compliance standards to prevent legal issues.


  • Leighann Emo

    With a rich background in content development, Leighann creates engaging, educational articles that resonate with small and growing businesses. Her role involves ensuring the accuracy and quality of content and collaborating with other board members to assess the accuracy and compliance of content.

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The article was reviewed by Deirdre Sullivan

Leighann Emo

With a rich background in content development, Leighann creates engaging, educational articles that resonate with small and growing businesses. Her role involves ensuring the accuracy and quality of content and collaborating with other board members to assess the accuracy and compliance of content.

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