Employee Policy Manuals

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Employee policy manuals may spell out any number of moral, ethical, procedural, or administrative rules and guidelines. There are policy manuals that take a no-nonsense approach to their corporate protocols and even come off overly draconian. Then there are policy handbooks that are more user-friendly and encourage employees not only to work hard, but to enjoy their time at the office as well.

One of the first things you'll need to do at your company (provided you're the boss) is set a corporate tone. This may be straight-forward and official, wry and sarcastic, mildly cheeky, or something in between. It should not, of course, be offensive, obnoxious, discriminatory, or abusive. While these definitions change from person to person, a good rule when writing your policy manual is to err on the side of decorum.

Stand in the Place Where You Work

Determining the appropriate tone is often a question of what it is you do. Are you a leading mergers and acquisitions firm? If so, spit-and-polish professionalism is your best bet. Are you a marketing firm looking to sell your sass and style? A more ironic tone might serve you well. Do you sell business writing services? Better make sure there's not a single comma out of place in your policy manual, lest you compromise your own credibility.

Ultimately, your employee policy manuals should reach some happy medium between style and substance. An overly dry, academic read will likely be lost on your workers the moment they're finished looking things over. A sardonic but fluff-filled manual may entertain but leave workers wondering where the line of seriousness has been drawn. If you must choose between the two, be sure your no-tolerance policies are written in plain English and reserve your wit for your office newsletter instead.


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