Monday Morning Quarterback: Would You Fire this Southwest Pilot?
The New CEO of SHRM... 2011 Version...

A Test to See If Anyone Actually Reads Your Employee Handbook...

Of course, no one does, right?  Like all the various software agreements we sign online as consumers, your employees simply click "OK" (or more likely, sign the acknowledgement page), and they're done.  

They have no clue what's included in the document.  Maybe that's the way you want it.  After all, if they knew everything that was in it, at a minimum you'd have a lot more questions related to what's going on and what stuff means from new hires.  Who needs that? Employee handbook

Some consumer companies are having fun with the "Terms and Agreement" section that customers have to sign online before using web products.  Maybe you could do the same thing with your employee handbook to see if anyone is reading it.  More from The Street:

"GameStation, a video game retailer based in the U.K. had some similar fun with its online terms of service, giving it "a nontransferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul."

Anyone who called them out on the demand got a coupon that knocked a few bucks off their next purchase. The company later relented and decided against harvesting any of the more than 7,500 souls to which it was entitled.

A survey by Stanford University found that 97% of users automatically hit "agree" when faced with a user agreement. A similar study by Carnegie Mellon University in 2009, published in I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, found that actually reading through every word of all that fine print would be very time-consuming—in the course of a year it could add up to as much as eight days of non-stop reading for the average user."

What's the employee handbook equivalent to check and see if anyone is reading?  How about a clause that says if the employee quits within 3 months of hire, he has to wash the HR Director's car weekly for a six-month period after leaving your company?

I know, I know.  You think that will void the whole thing.  Think up something you can live with, embed it in the handbook and then communicate to the company that the detail-oriented new hire that found it won an iPad.  Then communicate that story to new hires from that point forward.  That ought to get people a little more interested in a document that you love, but everyone else thinks sucks.



Michael Haberman SPHR

That is a great idea.


I like the post! We are inundated with information everywhere, everyday, all the time. How can you sort through it all?!!

As for employee handbooks, I wrote one for an organization I worked for and tried to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible. While I am the type to read one cover to cover (I actually read my husband's just because I wanted to) I realize not everyone is like that. It should be a resource for employees that can easily and quickly answer their questions about the company, rules, policies, benefits etc.

But throw in a chance to with an iPad or 10 extra days vacation, I'm sure there will be many more readers!


Add a sentence in there, something like..."Email your HR Director with 'I read it' in the subject line. $500 will be split between the people who email by Friday. If you are the only one to find this, you will get the entire amount, so don't tell anyone you found it. And thanks for reading the handbook!"

Rebecca Mazin

Clever idea. I've taken the contest aspect a bit further and recommended a quiz during new employee training/orientation/onboarding (whatever you are calling it this week). It's an open book test and people can work in groups. They get to find answers and explain items to everyone in the room. Of course winners get prizes and people actually read the handbook. Another time employees read a handbook is when they are sitting around contemplating a charge with an administrative agency!

Gary Smith

I had to laugh when reading this post — great idea! My company,, sells employee handbooks, and I'm going to refer every one of our customers to this post. Brilliant! I especially like Rebecca's suggestion...

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