Building Your Organization's Human Resources (HR) Manual

Bringing on a new staff member can be challenging, both for the new hire and for the organization. It can take time to fully share organizational expectations and practices with someone just coming onboard. In these cases, having a comprehensive and up-to-date HR Manual as part of your employee orientation is an extremely valuable tool.

Your HR Manual should be reflective of your organization, while also serving as a powerful resource for all employees to be able to reference. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure your HR Manual is informative and helpful.

  1. Review, Review, Review: Treat your HR Manual like a living document. Policies that were introduced even a few year ago may no longer be applicable and should be reviewed. If possible, rely on your staff or board to form an HR Committee who will review your manual annually and provide means for feedback on current policies.
  2. Identify Key Topics: At a minimum, your HR Manual should include basic expectations of employees, office procedures, codes of conduct, review of compensation and benefits, hours of work/vacation, and resignation and termination processes. Many organizations are now also expanding their policy manuals to include areas such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, employee complaint processes, remote working and even social media use. There are many policies you could include, but not all may be applicable to your organization. Be sure you are identifying the policies you need.
  3. Learn from Others: Many organizations have made their HR Manuals, or Employee Handbooks, available online. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other similar organizations and ask if they have examples of policies or HR Manuals that they are able to share to help you develop your own. SaskCulture has many sample policies available on our website in our Organizational Resources section.
  4. Prepare for Gaps and Make Adaptable Policies: If there’s anything we all learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that you can’t plan for every possible occasion. And while you might not be able to make a policy 100% applicable to all future situations, it will provide a common baseline you can use to address unexpected problems in the future.

These are just a few first steps you can take to help your organization build an effective and robust HR Manual. As always, you should reflect and identify the needs for your organization and work to create a series of policies that make sense for you.

Further Reading:

How to Develop an Employee Handbook

Employee Handbook: 6 Must-Have Policies for Your Manual

HR Policies to Include in an Employee Handbook

Developing HR Policies

List of Essential HR Policies & Procedures (+4 to Avoid)

Top Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Policy Manual