Do Staff Actually Read Your Employee Handbook?

 Do you know that research from GuideSpark suggests that 43% of generation Y are not reading the majority of the employee handbook, and 33% of non-generation Y are also not fully reading the handbook. It gets worse really, as this survey shows that 11% of generation Y have not actually even opened the employee handbook and 36% of non generation Y have no idea where there handbook is. To top it all off, the final nail in the coffin for employees is that just 1 in 3 people find employee handbooks helpful.

Of course the obvious way to deal with this problem is to have people read and sign the handbook confirming that they have read it. This doesn’t mean that they have read it, as many people sign far more important documents than employee handbooks without reading every page in detail. This also doesn’t encourage them to refer to the handbook on a regular basis as needed.

That’s why a more effective approach may be the carrot approach where you make people want to read the handbook by writing your handbook in a creative, innovative, funny, witty, engaging and thoroughly entertaining way. There are two examples of these modern, entertaining and highly readable employee handbooks on the marketplace and I have outlined them below.

  1. Zingermans. (A Michigan based deli chain). Their employee handbook is full of anecdotes, satirical drawings, games, humour, witty observations, funny fonts and formatting etc…  You can see a picture of the front cover page of the Zingerman staff guide which should really give you a clue about what I mean by a entertaining employee handbook.


  1. Valve. They are a games developer who have also produced a clever, witty, entertaining and graphically enhanced staff handbook and you can read all about it here. You really should look at this. It reads a little bit like a magazine article and describes their company, culture, practices and expectations in a compelling journalistic format.

What both of these handbooks have in common is that they don’t just talk about the company culture in a black and white, sterile way, it also describes the subtle nuances in the way that the company operates and sets out the personality and culture of the business.

Both of these companies who use this modern, entertaining and almost journalistic style of handbook presentation have found that not only do more people read the handbook, but that they refer to it on a much more regular basis.

The question for you is, ‘do staff actually read your staff handbook?‘ And if not, why not develop a more compelling and readable handbook in the style of Zingerman or Valve to get more people engaging with your employee handbook? Give me a shout if you’d like some help with doing this.

If you would like to download my Employee Handbook, please click here. 

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