Employee Handbooks Not a Popular Read

More than 6 in 10 HR professionals say getting employees to read the employee handbook is challenging, according to XpertHR Survey.

Getting employees to read the employee handbook is the most challenging handbook-related issue, according to 619 U.S. employers responding to XpertHR’s 2020 Survey on Employee Handbooks.

The survey covered seven major handbook-related challenges and found that 66 percent of participating HR representatives rated “getting employees to read their organization’s handbook” as either “somewhat” or “very” challenging, followed by 62 percent who gave the same rating for “keeping it compliant with state law,” and 57 percent for “training for managers so they can enforce the handbook.”

“While it sounds relatively straightforward to ensure employees read the handbook, the survey results show this is a real challenge for HR departments,” says Andrew Hellwege, Surveys editor, XpertHR. “Given these findings, organizations may want to make sure their workers are, indeed, reading the handbook, as these are immensely important documents that cover a wealth of information, such as company values, benefits, and compliance.”

The survey also found that organizations’ HR departments generally create their employee handbooks, usually with review by a lawyer. Approximately three-fifths (58 percent) of surveyed organizations noted their HR department created their employee handbook (with review by a lawyer), while 17 percent noted their HR function created the handbook without review by a lawyer. Other options for creating employee handbooks are uncommon, such as using a consulting firm, a professional employer organization (PEO), a law firm, or in-house counsel.

Additionally, the survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic has had only a modest effect on the content of employee handbooks. When asked if their organization had revised their employee handbook due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 27 percent of responding HR representatives said, “Yes”; 69 percent said, “No”; and 4 percent were not sure. (The survey was conducted in June and July 2020.) Among the organizations that have revised their handbook due to the pandemic, provisions concerning health and safety, work from home/telework, paid leave, and flexible working arrangements were all common targets for revisions.

For more information, visit xperthr.com.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.