Human resources manuals and employee handbooks are two of the most frequently used tools for communicating a company’s basic management philosophies, commitment to fair employment practices and equal opportunity, and the expectations of employees. Although both tools are similar in many respects and are often prepared simultaneously, they serve two separate and distinct purposes. Therefore, before preparing a human resources manual, it is important to first understand the difference between these two documents.
Human resources manuals are primarily used to provide managers with a systematic approach for handling human resources-related activities to ensure company policies are enforced. It is designed to define policies and procedures that support basic management philosophies, outline company rules and requirements, clarify the company’s expectations of its employees, and describe lines of authority and levels of responsibility.
Employee handbooks are primarily used to communicate basic management
philosophies, expectations, and employment conditions that help to
maintain positive employee relations. It is intended to briefly
summarize the company’s history, primary products or services, benefits
and privileges of working for the company, and key policies and
employment terms that guide employees in understanding their rights and
While both documents may address similar topics, it is important to recognize that their specific objectives, contents, and target audience vary.
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