Throwing the old rulebook out the window and writing a People & Culture Book from scratch

Post by 
Lianne Baker
Published 
April 19, 2022
I

have lost track of how many boring Employee Handbooks I have read both as a new employee in a company and also as a member of the HR team. I have also written some pretty dull ones too.  The problem with these handbooks is that they pretty much all say the same thing, it’s just that the policies are all slightly different depending on the company.  

Obviously, there is a legal requirement to have certain policies in there and those are not to be messed with, but what about the ones that should be in there but aren’t? What about things that people may go through in life that the standard employee handbook doesn’t even acknowledge?  

When I started at Enfuse, I wanted to make sure our policies reflected the genuinely kind and caring personality behind our company. We love to be a fun and forward thinking and we really do care about people and their wellbeing, so I wanted to back that up with something that visibly says to our fabulous team, ‘don’t worry, we have got your back’.  

Starting from a blank page with an employee handbook was really fun. I added in all the standard policies and then I did a brainstorm of everything else that I would like to see in a handbook. I thought of circumstances I had been through, or seen friends or colleagues effected by. I thought of the changing culture of the UK and the things people would expect from a forward-thinking company. I even thought of some fun things to reflect the Enfuse sense of humour.  

We want to continue to grow and develop our diverse and inclusive culture and we want everyone to feel they can bring their authentic self to work. Not only do we encourage our team to be open and honest and have created a culture of trust, but we wanted to make sure all of our employees had extra assurance that they would be supported no matter what. We are a small company without an endless budget, but we have done our best to be as inclusive as possible.  

So, do you want to know what policies we added?  

Health & Wellbeing

  • Pain and Fatigue – I started writing a period pain policy, knowing lots of people who suffer from endometriosis but then as I started writing it, I thought ‘hang on a minute, what about people who suffer from other chronic pain and what about people who suffer from fatigue?’ To make sure our employees who are impacted by this can continue to do a good job but also have chance to rest, we allow an additional 8 hours of paid breaks across a month and allow complete flexibility about where they work from when needed
  • Menopause – at some stage half the population (and probably during their working life), will go through menopause. It isn’t something that people would necessarily bring up at work, but we want our employees going through this to feel they can openly talk about it and receive the flexibility and support they need to manage their symptoms but still do a great job  
  • Wellbeing allowance – the company already had this in place, but it was fun to pad this out a little with some extra fabulous benefits and guidance on getting the most from a monthly £40 wellbeing allowance. Whether it is spent on massages, facials, gym membership, meditation apps, reiki or Lego, we love hearing what our team spend their money on
  • Cancer Rehabilitation – a terrible thing for anyone to go through but considering it affects almost everyone at some point in their life, either directly or indirectly, we wanted to write a policy on it to make sure that someone going through this difficult time has flexibility allowing them to work if they would like to. We want to provide some extra paid time off to alleviate financial worries

Family Friendly

  • Enhanced Maternity Leave – we pay 12 weeks fully paid leave plus we give a baby gift, return to work coaching following maternity leave and a Welcome Back box of treats
  • Enhanced Paternity leave – we pay 4 weeks fully paid. Not only that, but we have also called this ‘Paternity and Additional Parent Leave’ to make allowances for same sex couples
  • Adoption and Surrogacy Policies - we have matched our adoption policies and surrogacy polices to our Maternity and Additional Parent policies to ensure all our employees to start a family, by whatever means
  • IVF and Fertility – such a tough thing to go through, particularly when trying to go to work too. We want to reduce some of the stress and help out where we can, so we allow our employees paid time off for appointments, 3 days paid time off per cycle of IVF treatment, encourage flexibility around their job and any extra support required
  • Marriage – oh we love a good wedding or civil partnership, so we organise some fun and exciting gifts to celebrate
  • Divorce – we realise this can be quite common and can be a very difficult time in anyone’s lives. We offer flexibility around work as well as provide support and guidance where needed
  • Domestic abuse – a tricky subject but we felt it needed to be included. We want to allow a safe space for anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse so they feel they can talk to us if they need to. We allow flexible working and extra time off if needed to anyone seeking support. We will also pay for emergency accommodation if needed by someone escaping a dangerous situation
  • Parental Bereavement and Baby Loss – regardless of how old the fetus, baby or child is up to the age of 18, loss is loss and in these terrible circumstances we allow employees a minimum of 2 weeks of paid time off in addition to any counselling or coaching support needed and flexibility around work
  • Pet Bereavement – the loss of a pet can often be felt in the same ways a loss of a loved one. We therefore want to provide complete flexibility around work and extra support to anyone going through this

Socially Conscious

  • One of our company pillars is to be socially conscious and we always consider this when making decisions by giving real thought to where we buy things from, where we eat out, how our company swag is made and how to reduce our carbon footprint
  • Volunteer Day – we give all our staff one day off per year to take part in a day of volunteering but only if they tell us all about it to inspire us
  • We use Ecosia as our preferred search engine, meaning that trees are planted as we do our daily internet searching
  • We vow to be as paperless as possible – we realise sometimes this is unavoidable, but we make decisions on the basis of not printing

DE&I

  • We are currently writing a whole suite of new policies on DE&I to continue to encourage an inclusive working environment. We are taking advice to ensure we add the right policies that fit with our company and more importantly our people.  

And then for the fun ones...

  • Layla’s Law – we are an animal loving company with almost all our employees' owning cats and dogs. Layla is our official Chief Wagging Officer. We added in a brand-new pet policy that states you have to introduce your pets if they are around during teams talks but also all pets are also entitled to a Christmas treat each from the company as a thank you for putting up with us
  • Birthday Cakes – everybody gets a birthday cake or alternative to celebrate them on their day. We do understand that not everyone celebrates birthdays though, so we always check first and also make sure the cake suits their specific diet or taste
  • Celebrate the children – we love to put families first and as a thank you to all the children who put up with their parents working for us, we organise a special Christmas gift for them. We also donate a gift per employee to a children's charity making sure disadvantaged children can celebrate too

These are just a few I have added, and I will constantly be looking for new ones to add too.  

Employee Handbooks need a bit of a shake up, so don’t be afraid to take the shredder to yours and start again.  

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