THE BLOG
09/29/2016 01:52 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2017

Does Your Employee Handbook Reflect Your Company Culture?

Can you imagine a graphic employee handbook? Well, there is. It was created by the online shoe company, Zappos. They wanted an employee manual that truly reflected who they are and what the company represents. This approach says a lot about the firm. It is warm friendly and a lot of fun. It demonstrates how they feel about their employees. Zappo's calls their employee handbook a "Culture Book."

When an employee handbook is that good, it can be a recruiting tool. Really.
A clear description of your culture in your handbook can answer several questions. A Harvard Business Review survey titled "How company Culture Shapes Motivation," by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshiver, came to this conclusion: Why we work determines how well we work.

If you can create a handbook that truly reflects your company culture in a way that engages your staff, it goes a long way in job satisfaction as everyone will on the proverbial "same page." The handbook can be so much more while still serving its role as the company document that covers specific rules and policies that all employees should know. It is important for the employer to set expectations of employment.

Yet, it doesn't have to be a single-spaced written document as a cure for insomnia. You want your employees to read it and actually, have fun with it.

Nuts and bolts

Today your handbook can be online and hard copy, but the online version can be more fun as well as interactive.

Before you begin making a list of the important details of your employee handbook, take some time to reflect on the company as a whole. There are several items that you will want to consider:

• Policies that are applicable to all your employees and specifically spell out what they can expect from the leadership team as well as what is expected of them and where to go when they have questions.
• Showcase and promote all of the company benefits provided to the employee. Make sure it is current.
• Be sure to include all state and federal guidelines in the handbook, no matter how fun. The lack of a comprehensive handbook can potentially be a big problem for everyone. If there is no handbook, the employer can find himself in the position of not giving employees notice of the company rules and guidelines.

Who are we?

Ask yourself: What defines your culture?
First, let's address your mission statement or "Mission, Vision and Values." Do you have one? If not, this is the first step in building your handbook and detailing out what your culture is all about.

Your mission statement should include:

Relevance: If you are a tech firm, what are you doing and why is it important. Are you building a service platform, such as a food company that delivers ingredients that customers then put together themselves? This is a food-centered company, so it will be looking for people who are interested in the food and service values. Does your handbook reflect this?

Simplicity- By keeping the description of your company not overly complicated, your employees may find it interesting and actually read it.

Legalities-This is actually easier than you think. Get copies of state and federal employment laws and make sure there is nothing ambiguous that could be misinterpreted. All employees must have the same information and a consistent message from executive management. If not, you can leave yourself open to litigation.

Getting to the culture

Now that the legal stuff is out of the way, we can focus on the cultural side of document. Who are we?
Check out these online handbooks by progressive companies. You can immediately see who they are and what is important to the company while still covering the legal and expectations they want from their employees.

Consider your handbook as a total reflection of your company that enhance the understanding of who you actually are... really are.
Here are some examples that go from the most whimsical to a more sophisticated cultural handbook:
Memoriavisual _ Whimsical
Netflix - a bit more serious, but with a great comparison
Zaarly-Inspirational
UpCounsel-Active, intense
The Motley Fool - Interactive
Discus Culture Book -Engaging

Think about where you would like to work?

We all want to come to work feeling we are valued as well as surrounded by colleagues who feel the same way. Understanding the culture of a company goes a long way to towards that goal. Feeling like you fit in can translate into outstanding job performance.