For leaders of any growing business, there comes a point when you realize it’s time to create a more formalized copy of all your policies and procedures. While it can feel like a daunting task, developing a corporate manual will establish an official set of expectations for how your business operates. This is especially important as you continue to add more employees or business divisions. Your manual can act as a guide to keep everyone on the same page, even if you aren’t all in the same place at the same time.
Whether you’re the CEO of an expanding business or an HR exec getting your company up to speed, it can be hard to know where to start building your corporate manual. Our handy guide will walk you through the most important sections to include in this essential company resource.
Essential Operations Information
When your business is a smaller team, it’s easy enough to run your day-to-day operations by word-of-mouth or established tradition. However, when your business starts to expand rapidly, it becomes necessary to put your standard operating procedures in a manual for easy access. Typical procedures will vary for each company, but this list often includes your operating hours, holiday schedule, business address, and instructions for accessing internal programs, such as Slack or Dropbox. This resource can help new hires get up to speed, while also providing your current team with an extra reminder as needed.
Another important resource your employees may need is an organizational leadership chart. Essentially, this chart just outlines your team’s internal structure, listing each individual’s role and their relationship to others in the organization. With a visualized diagram, anyone in the business can decide who to contact about a given question or issue with just a glance. For faster communication, consider also listing each employee’s contact information, such as their office line, email address and LinkedIn profile. According to study from University of Tulsa, employees who consider their leadership to be approachable are 72% less likely to quit their job and 89% more likely to report satisfaction with their work.
One of the most critical functions of your corporate manual is to outline your business’ plan of what to do in the case of various emergencies. This may include fire, flood, natural disasters common to your area, violent threats, or other events as you see fit. The goal is to help each employee feel prepared to act if any of these events should arise. You’ll want to create a map that marks evacuation routes, assembly points and exists. Your emergency plan should also include a list of emergency contacts, such as the phone numbers for your fire department, police, ambulance, and poison control, as well as an internal chain of command with emergency duties assigned to the appropriate team members. This transparency will help everyone in the organization respond more quickly, safely, and efficiently in the case of an emergency.
Official Policies and Legal Language
This part of your corporate manual may be policies required by federal law, but it’s also important to give your employees a full list of their rights and your commitment as their employer to protect them. This section will include things like your equal employment opportunity clause, family medical leave act policy, jury duty leave, military service leave, sexual harassment policy, and more. Check your state’s labor laws for a full list of required policies in your area. In addition, you may want to include other corporate policies your employees will need to reference, such as paid time off and information about health insurance or other benefits.
For the final section in your manual, consider creating a FAQ list to make it as easy as possible for your employees to find the answers to their questions. Even if you address these questions elsewhere in the manual, listing them again in short-form Q&A format can help your team get the answers they need without digging through the entire packet (or eventually sending you an email asking for the information).
In this section, and throughout the manual as a whole, we recommend using evergreen content whenever possible to prevent frequent reprints. By avoiding time-sensitive language, you can minimize the need for reprints and keep most of your material current for years. Some parts of the manual, such as the organizational chart or list of policies, will inevitably change on a regular basis. If you want to avoid changing those pages regularly, try using a QR code that links to a digital version of the content, which can be more easily updated. Another option is to print the manual in a 3-ring binder, which will allow you to reprint only the pages that need changed over time, rather than the entire booklet.
In addition, if you need to distribute your manual to your entire team at once or if you plan to do a lot of hiring in the near future, consider printing your materials in bulk. After you reach a certain volume threshold, you can significantly lower your cost per print. To get started on a new quote, send us a message or contact a trusted local printer in your area.