How to Make an Employee Handbook New Hires Actually Read

Learn how to write an employee handbook for your new staff. Make a company handbook with your policy, values, and culture that new hires enjoy reading.

How to create an employee handbook

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Short answer

How to make your employee handbook more engaging?

  1. Keep it simple

  2. Set the right tone

  3. Engage your audience with compelling stories

  4. Use scroll-stopping visuals

  5. Create an interesting format

  6. Map out a narrative framework for your company

Read on to see each step in depth.

Why no one ever uses their employee handbook

Employee handbooks are as exciting to read as a technical manual for assembling furniture—packed with jargon and dry explanations. They don't exactly spark joy in the average reader.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

By infusing your handbook with storytelling, you can transform it from a dull document into a vibrant narrative that captures the essence of your company culture.

Humans are naturally hardwired to respond to stories. They help us make sense of the world around us and connect with others on a deeper level.

Storytelling can bring your handbook to life in a way that resonates with readers.

It will enable you to share anecdotes about the company's humble beginnings, highlighting the values that drive your organization, or illustrating how employees have overcome challenges together in a way new hires will enjoy reading and make them actually care.

Let me show you how it’s done.

What should an employee handbook include?

  1. A warm welcome letter from the CEO

  2. Company history, mission, and vision

  3. Organizational structure breakdown

  4. Insight into company culture

  5. Corporate directory of key personnel

  6. Comprehensive overview of employee benefits and perks

  7. Opportunities for professional development

  8. Essential procedures and contacts (e.g., IT support, leave reporting, training enrollment)

  9. Guidelines for handling company property

  10. Insider tips on informal customs, like birthday celebrations and when it's cool to turn on your camera during virtual meetings

While not every employee handbook will include all these elements, this checklist gives you a good starting point to map out what your handbook should look like.

Tailor it to fit your company's unique needs and culture.

How to create an employee handbook new hires will use

Want to make an employee handbook that your team will actually want to read? Follow these expert tips for making a handbook that's practical AND engaging.

1. Keep it simple

Ensure your handbook is straightforward and easy to comprehend. Opt for

  • shorter sentences,

  • digestible structured paragraphs, and

  • steer clear of complex vocabulary and legal jargon.

2. Set the right tone

As a current master in branding is teaching us, businesses should constantly interact with their environment to clearly define their personality.

Align the tone of your handbook with your company's brand and culture. If your organization values a fun and upbeat culture, don't hesitate to infuse a touch of playfulness and brand personality into the content.

3. Engage your audience with compelling stories

When crafting your company overview, go beyond mere dry facts and figures. Instead, weave a narrative that delves into your company's journey, milestones, and core values. Perhaps, even add a couple of success stories of long-term employees that have switched to more techincal jobs and became IT support specialists or climbed the ladder to become sales or marketing managers. It can give individuals perspective on what they can achieve.

This human-centric approach fosters stronger connections between new hires and the larger organizational vision.

When sharing your company's history, avoid dry recitations of dates and achievements. Instead, paint a vivid picture that showcases the passion and drive behind your organization's journey.

Let’s understand it from a sample template.


"Our company was founded in 2001 in Silicon Valley. As of 2024, we've become a leading player in the industry through collaborative efforts."

Instead try:

"In the year 2001, from the confines of a garage in Silicon Valley, the seeds of company XYZ were sown. Fueled by a bold vision, a borrowed computer, and boundless determination, our founder embarked on a mission to redefine our industry.

Fast forward two decades, and we stand as – pioneers, trailblazers, carrying forward the torch of innovation. Each member of our team plays an integral role in this remarkable journey, contributing to the collective success."

Which one grabs your attention more?

4. Use scroll-stopping visuals

Transform your employee handbook into a visual delight! Incorporate captivating photos, videos, and infographics to enhance engagement. Here are some suggestions:

  • Showcase photos capturing the essence of daily life at your office, featuring your employees in action.

  • Include a heartfelt video message from your CEO.

  • Craft a vibrant company culture video, offering a glimpse into the unique vibe and values of your organization.

5. Create an interesting format

Why stick with the same old PDF format – think outside the box. Get creative and experiment with different formats of your employee handbook.

Consider options like a printed booklet with a fancy twist, a comic strip, a caption video, or even a Trello board. Here are some inspiring examples to keep your imagination flowing:


Trello employee manual

Talk about clever! Trello, known for its web-based project management app, used its own product to craft their employee manual. It not only introduced new hires to the company in a unique way but also gave them a crash course in using Trello's platform.


Zappos hit a home run with their comic book-style employee handbook. By crafting something enjoyable to read, they ensured their employees not only went through it but actually liked doing so.

Zappos employee handbook


Facebook, now Meta, went for a visually stunning booklet format. Their employee handbook is filled with clever blurbs, witty observations, and inspiring language.

Meta employee handbook

6. Map out a narrative framework for your company

Create a cohesive plan for the types of stories your company requires. Rather than sharing employee anecdotes randomly, it's better to have a clear direction. Develop a strategy by considering key questions:

  • Identify your organization's primary needs concerning employee stories.

  • Determine how these stories align with company objectives.

  • Prioritize stories that align closely with company priorities.

  • Identify areas within the company that lack representation, where employee stories can make a significant impact.

  • Explore the most effective methods for collecting and sharing workplace stories to ensure maximum influence.

Relevant read: 6 Recruitment Pitch Deck Examples Every HR Pro Should See

Why do storytelling handbooks work better?

Storytelling breathes life into otherwise boring and uninspiring handbooks, making them fun and memorable.

Instead of slogging through page after page of policies and procedures, stories give you different perspectives and make things way more interactive.

In fact, studies reveal that stories activate regions associated with memory and emotion, leading to better information retention compared to traditional factual presentations.

Advantages of using storytelling techniques in handbooks

  • Evoke emotions

  • Personalize messages

  • Improve recall value, ensuring the information sticks in people's minds

  • Build a connection between employers and employees

  • Strengthen the brand

Why do you need an employee handbook?

It's true that not every organization may feel the need to create an employee handbook, especially if the information is readily available through other means, such as a comprehensive knowledge base.

The most important reason for having an employee handbook

However, there are numerous undeniable benefits to having an easy-to-understand employee handbook, both for your business and your employees. Here’s why:

  • Welcoming newbies with warm onboarding: It's the perfect introduction to your company's culture, values, and mission, helping new hires feel inclusive from day one.

  • Setting expectations: Helps clearly outline what's expected from employees in terms of performance, behavior, and code of conduct.

  • Educating on rights: Provides essential information on employees' rights within the organization, fostering a sense of empowerment.

  • Boosting transparency: By laying out policies and procedures, it promotes openness and honesty within the workplace.

  • Building trust: Employees feel more confident and secure when they know and understand what to expect, fostering a stronger sense of trust.

  • Conflict prevention and resolution: Provides guidance on how to navigate disagreements or disputes fairly (if they arise).

  • Legal compliance: It can even serve as evidence of compliance with labor laws and regulations, potentially saving you from headaches down the line.

Remember, while an employee handbook is valuable, it shouldn't replace essential process documentation such as training manuals, video tutorials, or internal wikis.

Each of these documents plays a unique role in streamlining business processes and transferring knowledge effectively.

NOTE: As per labor law regulations in some countries, like France, Belgium, and Japan, could mandate that you have an official employee handbook with a list of required work guidelines.

Relevant read: How to Build a Culture Deck to Attract Hires (+Examples)

Now it’s your turn

Crafting an employee handbook that's both informative and engaging requires effort, but the benefits far outweigh the investment.

While an employee handbook isn't the sole determinant of new hire engagement, its clarity and narrative-driven approach certainly contribute positively.

It's all about starting strong, setting the scene, and then dropping that 'aha' moment that leaves people wanting more.

And when it comes to your employee handbook, if there's a chance to turn something into a story, go for it. It's the perfect way to hook in top talent and keep them hooked.

By ensuring that your policies are easily understandable, you empower your staff to grasp how your business operates and the foundational principles that underpin it. Simply put, clarity breeds understanding.

Natasha Merchant

I specialize in content marketing & I have been doing it for more than 6 years. I love creating content marketing maps for businesses. I have written content for various publication websites. At present, I am helping SaaS to improve online visibility with the help of SEO, Content Marketing & Link Building.

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