As the world of HR is constantly evolving, businesses are realising that having a strong positive workplace culture can mean the difference between attracting and retaining top-quality talent and losing valuable employees.
Particularly for businesses in highly competitive industries with similar benefits, sometimes company culture is your only advantage.
Having a cohesive culture in your workplace has never been more important. This is why we recommend transitioning to a culture-first handbook that outlines your company’s story and explains what your organisation stands for.
What is culture in the workplace?
It’s hard to describe the culture of a company; it’s something that is felt more than told.
Hearing descriptions and examples of a company’s culture will never compare to experiencing it for yourself. Your feelings when experiencing the company culture will help you decide if it matches the story you are told by others.
When our emotions in the workplace don’t line up with the story we are told, there can be a huge sense of disappointment.
It happens often that companies will advertise an attractive culture to new hires that doesn’t match what is really happening in their workplaces. However, this clash in values typically doesn’t occur when businesses have a culture handbook.
What is a culture handbook?
Sometimes called a culture manual, a culture handbook tells the story of your organisation. It’s a guide that helps paint a picture of your culture and gives a behind-the-scenes look at what makes your company a fulfilling place to work.
These handbooks put the feeling of working somewhere into words, so there aren’t any more unspoken rules and processes. You can use physical documents like an old-school handbook or take it digital with slide decks – whatever works best for your business.
Your culture handbook is a practical reference for everyone in your organisation. It’s a valuable tool for new hires looking to fit in and getting your existing employees involved in the creation will strengthen their sense of belonging.
What should you include in a culture handbook?
No two businesses have the exact same culture, so it makes sense that every handbook will be different too.
There are so many features you can include in your culture book it can be hard to know where to start. For us, the main things to include are:
- Culture definition – A sense of what life is like in your organisation.
- Company mission – A statement that details the core of why your business exists.
- Vision – The ‘why’ behind your company that guides where you’re going.
- Values – The behaviours, skills, and attributes that define who you and your colleagues are.
- Goals – Goals that all employees can use to guide their decision-making at work.
- Company overview – A summary of what your organisation does and how it lines up with your mission and vision.
- Images – Your culture book shouldn’t feel like a formal document, so make sure to include plenty of photos or illustrations.
Other topics you may like to include:
- Welcome letter – Can include a description about what the handbook is for and to inspire employees in their journey.
- Company history – Businesses grow and adapt over time so it can be nice to know where the company started and how it’s changed over the years.
- Timeline – Like the company history, but you can focus more on specific details like key milestones and important dates.
- People profiles – Puts names to faces for new employees and gives you the chance to be more personal than an executive bio.
How to get started on your culture handbook
The best part of introducing a culture handbook to your company is that you don’t have to change your entire culture to get started; work with what you’ve got!
If you’re starting from scratch, we’d recommend starting with your mission statement. Although this step can be hard to get right, once you’ve got it, this statement will form the basis of your culture documents.
The next thing we suggest is to decide on your company’s values and go into detail about what these mean specifically to your organisation.
Another key step to take is defining your workplace culture. Think about how it feels to work at your business and try to find some words that describe it.
We know this is one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of creating a culture handbook, so let us do the hard work for you. We’ll help you define, visualise, and draft your culture book. Get in touch with us to find out more.
Why use a culture handbook?
Company culture is incredibly powerful and vital for businesses to get right. It can inspire and unify your teams when done right or cause significant problems when it goes wrong.
A culture handbook gives you the chance to turn the abstract and emotive feeling of culture into something tangible. The story you tell creates a picture of the kind of workplace you have and allows people to understand it better.
So, what are the benefits of using a handbook?
Educate current and incoming employees
A manual is the perfect way to provide new employees with information about your company during the onboarding process, and it means they have something to consult if they’re ever unsure how to proceed in their work.
It isn’t just for new hires either; existing employees can also benefit from a manual. It cements their feeling of belonging, especially if you include them in the creation of the handbook.
Clearly define and visualise your culture
Creating an accessible document like a culture handbook allows your employees to better understand your vision for the company and visualise the core values they should uphold.
Building a strong culture is important, and a manual invites your employees to nurture that positive environment and let it blossom.
Empower employees to make independent decisions
If your employees feel they have a strong understanding of expected behaviours, they’ll be more likely to make better decisions.
Having a positive, supportive working atmosphere will ultimately boost productivity as employees will know what steps to take in different situations.
Strengthen your reputation
A good handbook can inspire curiosity in your employees, which can spread to interest from potential talent if your work culture is visibly strong.
And it’s not just employees who look for a positive culture. Clients who may want to partner with your company will be on the lookout for core values that align with their own businesses.
Demonstrate commitment to culture
Saying you have a good workplace culture is easy, but how can you prove it? Having a document that outlines your culture and how it shapes your practices shows your company’s dedication to providing a positive environment.
Culture handbooks are a tool for cultural consistency in your business as they ensure employees at all levels are on the same page and speaking the same language.