Ambient Tribe | Company culture in your employee handbook
How to inject your company spirit and culture into your handbook to inspire and motivate your people.
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The Ho Hum Handbook

As organisations grow and evolve it’s inevitable that the culture will start to change too. The way that 5 people interact in a shoe box office is inevitably going to be different when there are 20, 50 or 200 people in the company.

What do I mean by culture? I mean, the way it feels to be in a place. From the tiny exchanges with colleagues, to the cultural values that have a profound impact on the way you do your job. Do people say hello when you arrive in the morning? Is a laugh and a giggle encouraged? Are you supported when you want to try something new and perhaps a little risky? Is it normal for people across the company to say what they think you want to hear, and not necessarily the facts?

For many entrepreneurs and founders, creating a culture that they want to work in is one of the reasons they start the company. So why, as they grow, is culture often the first thing that drops of the to do list?


I’m lucky enough to visit some exciting, dynamic, organisations, but I’m often surprised when they show me their company handbook. Despite their impressive growth, slick website and cutting-edge products, I’m regularly passed a dog-eared word document, that sadly resembles a wet lettuce leaf. Full of very strict instructions on ‘what not to do’, these handbooks make we want to weep. Firstly… out of boredom and secondly, because it’s such a missed opportunity.

A great handbook should set the cultural tone for new employees. It has the power to inspire, energise and make an employee desperately want to be part of your team.  It’s one of the first signifiers as to how a company really feels about its people.

Obviously, HR Policies are important and should be a key component of the handbook. But why not begin by describing your culture, the ‘what it’s like to work here’. By doing this you’re setting expectations from day one. Employees get a much clearer idea of what behaviour is ok, and what is not. And as an employer, this of course also makes it easier to hold them to account when they’re not living the values you dear.

Think about the language you use. If it’s super colloquial, then don’t be surprised when that’s the tone your employees adopt. If you want a very loose, friendly, creative culture, then formal, jargoned filled business language is going to feel like an oxymoron.


Use your handbook to share your aspirations, what your company is trying to achieve, where you are on your journey. After all, how can you expect your team to pull in the same direction when they don’t know where you’re headed?


Authenticity is key. If you write about your relaxed, care free culture and then insist on formal office attire, something isn’t going to ring true. Every culture has its merits, so embrace what your truly is. And if there’s something you don’t like, then set about changing it. Because you can’t run away from it.


Large companies such as Google, Zappos and Netflix are renowned for their handbooks (just do a quick search and you’ll come across lots of examples). But don’t panic that this means it’s going to cost you a fortune. Forget about producing a glossy brochure. A simple, eBook style approach will get the job done and can be update as things evolve!


If you’re interested in talking to Ambient Tribe about a handbook refresh, contact us here!

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