Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook


Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources.

Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals:

  • They save money by not printing their handbooks.
  • They’re able to update their handbooks much more easily and save even more money.
  • They connect better with younger employees; many of whom don’t read printed materials.
  • They make it more convenient for employees to see your HR policies.
  • They are more environmental friendly and convey the right eco- image to their employees.

So an electronic handbook is a suitable tool to help you in employee-engagement.

A sure-fire way to improve employee engagement for profit is to partner with your employees.

In fact, I would argue a handbook designed for the 21st century is helpful to achieve profits, and for powering your brand with employee empowerment.

Note: There are dos and don’ts in switching employee handbooks to an electronic platform whether it’s to a database or Web site.

It isn’t a difficult process and it makes it easy for you to insert updates.

But there are best practices to guard against legal hassles or simple miscues.

Best practices include:

  1. Prominently insert your employee acknowledgment form. You’ll want your employees to see any disclaimer and acknowledgment forms before reading the document.

2. Secure your document. Make certain your employees have to create and use passwords to see the handbook. You don’t want non-employees to see it.

3. Make sure your handbook is mobile-friendly.

4. Insert links into your document that will make it easy for employees to see related information pertaining to your benefits, health care insurance or federal tax forms.

5. Incorporate all important email, telephone and other information.

6. Make certain to thoroughly proofread your handbook before going online. Look for mistakes, omissions and simple typos. Test all links to make sure they work.

7. When you update or make changes to your handbook be sure to notify your employees. Send them an email marking it “urgent” with a link to your handbook.

8. Request employees to acknowledge the email and to show they’ve read the handbook. Give them a deadline to respond.

9. Have a suspense system so that you follow up with employees who fail to respond.

10. Perhaps it goes without saying, but you must save and back up all communication with your employees.

For workers who still prefer a hard copy – whether they don’t use computers or who just simply want one – accommodate them with a hard copy.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for relevant HR strategies:

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy? — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap –– Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints. The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices. You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices.

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations –– How should you properly evaluate employees? Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad. What are the best ways? Here’s how to avoid making those classic mistakes.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations –– As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

7 Tactics to Enjoy Your Job Managing Difficult Employees –– With a difficult employee, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s how to love your job even when managing difficult employees.

“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.”

-Timothy R. Clark


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.