Published by
Mike Bandar
Leadership & Culture
7 mins

Employee Handbook Mistakes that should be avoided in 2024

Employee Handbook Mistakes that should be avoided in 2023 or Confusing Policies That Are damaging your employee playbook

Employee handbooks clearly communicate the company's culture and policies to the staff. As a business leader, you need to organize important entitlements to make your handbook easily understandable. How can you do that? You need to avoid common employee handbook mistakes to make it more accessible for everyone. 

Employee handbooks are highly valuable for companies. Likewise, their mistakes can give a significant blow to any business.  

You might be thinking, how can you avoid mistakes in employee handbooks? For this purpose, you need to know the do's and don'ts of the employee handbook. Let's discuss some of the common employee handbook mistakes to avoid.

This article will cover the following;

  • No Process in Place to Update Them
  • Unnecessary Complexity
  • Update Employees about the Changes in Employee Handbook
  • No Disclaimer
  • Weak Anti-Harassment Policy
  • Excessively Restrictive Disciplinary and Social Media Policies
  • No Input from the Legal Team

No Process in Place to Update Them

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75 percent of small businesses don’t update their employee handbooks.

As the business grows, employers make new policies, and changes occur in the state or federal laws. If these modifications are worth noting, it is significant to record them in your employee handbooks.

One of the common employee handbook mistakes is not having a proper plan for updating the manuals as the law changes. If you want to ensure that your handbook reflects current trends, you need to improvise an adequate process to keep your employee manual updated.

Unnecessary Complexity

This is one of the common employee handbook mistakes to avoid. Don't complicate the manuals. As an employer, you want to convey the company's goals to your staff. Right! For this purpose, make your handbooks user-friendly and understandable for everyone. It can be done by choosing a simple and clear language. If your language is too complicated, the readers won't bother to read it.

For instance, if you have a financial playbook. But if it’s too complex for employees, they are never going to follow it. Such a single mistake can cost you a lot. 

Additionally, learn to keep your manual brief and concise. You should know what not to include in the employee handbook. For instance, while listing anti-harassment policies, you don't need to write how you will investigate the claim. Avoid giving unnecessary details to your employees. So, keep them handy and easily accessible.

Update Employees about the Changes in Employee Handbook

Research shows that 60% of employees fail to read their company handbooks. Why? One reason may be when employers fail to communicate the handbook properly to the staff. 

If you want to alleviate uncertainty, you need to communicate with the employees about the changes you've made in the handbook. It strengthens your relationship with your staff, and they'll feel valued. For this purpose, you need to take some initiative. 

You can organize workshop sessions to inform the employees about the latest update. In addition, try to provide them with instructions on each topic in person, and don't rely entirely on the employee's goodwill to read the whole thing.

Moreover, when you upgrade the handbook, you make it easy for your employees to get familiar with the current business needs. They don't need to rush the notice boards to review the latest procedures. Likewise, many companies digitalize handbooks to make them easily accessible for remote workers as well. So, it would be significant to convey to the staff the changes that occur in the employee handbook.

No Disclaimer

One of the major employee handbook mistakes is skipping disclaimers. The disclaimer clearly refers that the employee handbook does not form any employment contract. It is significant to note that the company is not obligated to provide employment to any candidate.

Similarly, the termination of employment can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. The purpose of including a disclaimer in the employee handbook is to protect your company from litigation. It also ensures that nothing in the manual can change the at-will employment relationship of the employees. So, don't forget to add a disclaimer in your employee handbook.

Weak Anti-Harassment Policy

An effective anti-harassment policy provides employees with a sense of personal security. When you don't devise rules against molestation, it increases the employee turnover rate. 

Research shows that 34% of employees leave a job due to unresolved harassment concerns. 

One of the employee handbook mistakes is overlooking a clear description of such policies.

As an employer, you need to provide your employees with clarity about anti-harassment laws. Give them directions on how to report their claim. The employee handbook should integrate all the procedures necessary to complete the harassment complaint. It provides them with a safe and healthy working environment. Therefore, document everything regarding molestation policies in your handbook comprehensively.

Excessively Restrictive Disciplinary and Social Media Policies

The disciplinary policy defines the guidelines and measures taken to correct employee misconduct or rule-breaking at the workplace. If you have devised a very strict disciplinary policy, you are making one of the employee handbook mistakes. Always try to implement a flexible system to handle the issues and draw constructive outcomes.

For instance, social media is the hub of advertisers. According to Pew Research, an average Facebook user has 338 friends. So, if you restrict an employee from accessing social media at the workplace, you’ll lose 338 opportunities for advertisement from a single employee. 

For this purpose, you can write down a progressive disciplinary policy in your employee handbook. An overly restrictive system would make your company unable to cope with challenging situations. For instance, if an employee breaks a company's rule for the first time, you will not terminate the employee directly. Contrary to that, you will give him a verbal or written warning.

Likewise, don't craft a restrictive social media policy. You can't prohibit your employees from expressing their feedback about the company on public platforms. But you can suggest your staff add a disclaimer to their social posts. For instance, while posting anything on social platforms, you can make your employees write that this is their personal opinion, not the company's stance.

No Input from the Legal Team

One of the common employee handbook mistakes is to avoid help from your legal team. State and federal laws change frequently. To keep your handbook up to date according to the current employment laws, you need to seek guidance from your legitimate staff. You need to keep them in the loop so they can review the employee handbook periodically.

So, if you want to design an updated handbook version, you must have your legal counsel team improvise it regularly.


In short, employee handbook mistakes mitigate the quality of your manual. If you don't devise it properly, you will not be able to communicate the company procedures more clearly to your employees. So, if you want to convey your policies lucidly, try Waybook Playbook templates. These enable you to set out clear expectations for the employees. So, what makes you wait? 

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