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How To Build An Adaptable Employee Manual With Trello

Create an effective employee handbook with Trello

As your company grows, putting together scalable resources for your employees can be a challenge. 

The ability to organize, access, and adapt the information is key for maintaining flexibility and lowering the bar of entry for your employees to access things like onboarding paperwork, payroll FAQs, company culture, health benefits, time off policies, and remote workflows.

Is your employee manual actually useful to your team, or is it just gathering dust? Here are easy ways to use Trello to build an effective and adaptable digital company handbook.

Adaptable And Scalable

Employee manuals change over time. Sometimes it’s a small change, like how travel reimbursement receipts are processed. Sometimes the changes are huge, like allowing employees to work remotely full time and explaining how to to set up their virtual environments. 

The place where all of this information lives needs to be easy to update.

Employee manual Trello template

Create Board From Template

One way to keep your manual alive is by storing information within a Trello board. The Employee Manual Board Template is presented with each policy as a card, filed under the appropriate list. 

The lists include:

👋🏽 On Your First Day: This list gives new hires step-by-step instructions for things like requesting IT support, how lunch breaks work, and home office equipment. 

🩺 Benefits: An organized place for team members to access all things insurance and benefits related.

🏝 Vacation, Holidays, Time Off: An ever-evolving space that answers important questions like ‘do I need to ask to take a vacation?’.

✈️ Travel, Conferences, Expenses: When in-person conferences are permitted, employees can use this list to refer to expense reimbursement and travel policies. 

🏡 All Things Remote: As a fully distributed team since 2013, we’ve gotten our remote workflows and toolkit down to a science. This list provides team members with remote policies and expectations.

Cards are easy to edit and customize as policies change:

Digital employee handbook

Cards can be dragged up and down a list if you wish to reorder how the information is presented:

Employee handbook in Trello

Attach Important Documents, Photos, Links, And Files 

Outside resources like links to other Trello boards, photos, and important documents can be attached to specific cards. Whether it’s a PDF with an explanation of health insurance benefits or just a link to another Trello team board, what’s important is that all of these external resources exist in a central space.

Enable the Google Drive Power-Up to see previews of attachments in your drive. Entire folders may be attached and are able to be previewed right from the card.

Trello template employee manual

Instead of hunting down specific information every time an employee has a question, they know that all materials are easily referenced and organized in one place.

Make It Easily Accessible

You can have the greatest, most in-depth manual on the planet, but if it isn’t available to your employees wherever they are located, then honestly, what’s the point? Employees having the ability to locate relevant company information is as critical as the information itself.

As John Moss, CEO of English Binds puts it,

“The employee handbook has proved to be a great way for us to introduce employees to the values and culture of our business and set out the standards for employment. Providing a clear understanding of what is expected of our staff has helped to create healthy workplace relationships and even resolve some issues before they arise. It’s also proved to be beneficial in helping to retain some of our best and brightest members of staff by showcasing some of the benefits we offer to employees.”

This is especially true at Trello, where over half of our 200+ team is (under normal circumstances) remote. Our needs and questions vary greatly from employee to employee, and these questions might arise in different locations and time zones. Since all of our resources are located on a Trello board, this means anyone on the team can quickly pull up our policies anywhere they are.

For example, if you’re traveling for work and wondering how much money is covered for meals, that information is easily accessible via mobile:

Mobile Trello view

Ultimately, whether your manual is referenced daily or every few months, it’s important that it is adaptable, attachable, and most importantly, accessible. This type of transparency makes it easier for your employees (and you!) to receive the necessary information to help them work better.

Trello employee manual GIF

Create Board From Template


ℹ️Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2015 and we've added a whole heap of new ideas and nuggets of information to this post in September 2020.

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Next: 5 Best Practices For Setting Up Effective Trello Boards