Recurring staffing challenges? A clear staff policy can help

The terms ‘employee handbook’ and ‘staff policy’ are often used interchangeably. Absence rules, leave rules, dress code: these are all included in an employee handbook. But what is a staff policy and when do you draft such a policy? This article covers it all.

Employer obligations and more

Wondering what personnel matters you are required to take care of, and what extras you can offer?

Start the tool


Drawing up a staff policy is not mandatory, but it helps you make the right choices for larger, recurring staffing challenges. For example:

  • Structural staff shortage
  • Changes in your business, such as digitalisation or expansion abroad
  • Many employees retiring
  • Not enough diversity and inclusion in your workplace

What is staff policy?

Staff policy is also known as personnel management and is the umbrella term for how you deal with recurring challenges relating to personnel. This does not always have to involve a document. You make choices for how to run your company. You outline these choices in agreements and communicate these agreements to your staff. For example, by recording them in an employee handbook. Your staff policy is based on the mission, vision, core values, and status of your business. Your choices contribute to this.

Difference between staff policy and employee handbook

You draft a staff policy for the departments that have to implement it, such as the board or the HR department. The interests of your business are the focal point here. An employee handbook is written for your employees. The interests of your staff are the focal point in this.

So although the terms 'staff policy' and 'employee handbook' are often used interchangeably, each means something different.

Employee handbookStaff policy
Central question: how do I deal with my employees?Central question: why do I treat my employees the way I do?
Practical informationStrategic information
Meets information needs of employeesServes the interests of the organisation
Individual personnel matters (such as: how to apply for leave?) Collective personnel matters (such as: inclusion is important to me. How do I make my business inclusive?) 
Target group: employeesTarget group: the departments working in the interest of the business

Staff policy examples

Staff policies often involve more departments than just the HR department. Some typical examples of staff policy matters include:

  • You have structural staff shortages. You have investigated why and the cause turns out to be a poor reputation of your business. The policy choice you make is: over the next few years, improve your reputation as an employer. The department that plays a role in this is your communications department.
  • You want to grow internationally. But: your employees do not speak English and lack digital knowledge. The policy choice you make is: you are going to retrain existing staff in the coming years. This requires an adjustment from your finance department, because they have to apply for subsidies, for instance. But your management also has to get to work. They have to support your staff in their retraining.
  • You have many older employees. And you know: in a few years, these employees will retire. Recruiting new employees for these positions is expensive. Besides, you feel loyal employees are important. The policy choice you make is: if you have a job opening, offer existing staff a chance to be promoted. This is not only a task for HR, but also for management.

Drawing up staff policy

Your staff policy can be brief. For example, it can be the introduction to your employee handbook. When drafting a staff policy, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Start with your business’s mission, vision, and core values. Where do you want to go and what do you think is important?
  2. What challenges are you running into?
  3. What does your workforce look like now and can you achieve your mission and vision with this workforce? Are your core values being put into practice? And can you address your challenges with your current workforce?
  4. What do you need to do with your staff in the coming years to do address your mission, vision, core values, or challenges?
  5. Which departments have a role in this and what will be their task?
  6. What should you change in your employee handbook to contribute to that?

Have you drafted your staff policy? Communicate your choices to the relevant departments. Does this change anything for your employees? Then adjust it in your employee handbook.