How to Update an Employee Handbook for 2020


As Labor Day approaches and summer comes to an end, now is the time to update your Employee Handbooks to ensure compliance with the ever-changing employment law landscape. As you begin the project of creating or updating your company’s employee handbook, here are some things to keep in mind.

Create an Outline

Before you begin creating or updating your employee handbook, start off by creating a list of important policies that you know you’ll want to include. As you’re creating a list, do some research with:

  • Company Employees. Reach out to new and seasoned employees. Ask them, “What do they wish they had known when they were hired?”
  • Plan providers. What are the most frequently asked questions? What can your company do a better job of communicating?
  • Company Programs. What is working well? What isn’t? Are their programs that your employees do not know about because they haven’t been communicated very well?
  • Employee surveys or questionnaires. Do you have any procedures or programs that are misunderstood?
  • Senior managers. What do they want every employee to know? Is there a common issue that seems to be driving everyone crazy?

Begin Gathering Content for your 2020 Employee Handbook

Now that you have established a checklist of important information that you’d like to include in your handbook, it’s time to start gathering content. An employee handbook typically covers Human Resources policies on dress code, office access, anti-harassment, confidential information, payroll information, benefits, holidays, Paid Time Off (PTO) and more.

Although most of this information will come from the Human Resources department, it is a good idea to consult other departments. They may have valuable information to contribute that will help your employees know what to do in a variety of situations. For example, if your employees use a computer or company provided phone as a part of their job, consider adding policies from your IT Department about Password Protocol and Social Networking.

Create a Table of Contents

After you have finished gathering your content, now you will need to organize it. It is helpful to create a detailed list of contents at the front of the handbook. Don’t just list “Benefits,” list specifics like “Short Term Disability” or “Bereavement Time” with a page number (if your handbook is in print) or link.

If your handbook is in print, consider including an index at the back of the book. Although many people will go to the table of contents to find a topic, about half will check the back of the book for the index. That’s why it’s important to have both in your handbook, so you’re making it easy for everyone to find what they’re looking for.

Tips for Implementing New or Changing Employee Handbook Policies

HR Daily Advisor recommends using several channels for communicating and disseminating the updated handbook. This could include a mass staff email with a link to the new material, a post on the company’s intranet system, or even a post in the break room to ensure workers are aware. Consider highlighting where updates or changes to the handbook have been made and how they differ from what was in place in the past.

Download AAIM’s 2020 Employee Handbook Checklist.