We Gave Our Employee Handbook a Facelift, and You Should Too

We’re taking a moment to share with you a piece of our culture. We share a lot of our work that has to do with our machines, the work of our employees, and newsworthy events, and we also think it’s valuable to share about the people at C³ that make those things possible. Here’s a dose of how we foster a culture of ingenuity and integrity that brings our products and services to life.

In late fall of last year we brought on our first-ever HR employee, Tiffany, as Human Resources Manager. Her extensive background working with small to midsize businesses in manufacturing, plus her enthusiasm to join our team, led to the perfect opportunity to bring Tiffany on board. In the year she’s been here, she’s helped us solidify what it means to have a career with C³ for our employees, and strengthen our commitment to investing in our most valuable asset: our people.

When Tiffany was first hired, we handed her this employee handbook:

Since then, she’s handed it out to those she’s brought on board in the last year, but always with a cringe. She knew we didn’t look like the digitized man and woman on that cover. She also knew the blanket policy text and insincere explanations in the following pages didn’t match who we were either.

Are you sleeping yet?

A cool thing happened here over the fall, though. Tiffany knocked on the door of our marketing department and said “Hey! I’m going to make this better!” and Courtney in marketing said, “Okay! I’ll help you!”

…Here’s where we pause to talk about how important it is that our departments work beyond invisible borders. It’s obvious that a mechanical engineer would work with an electrical engineer, and the engineering department would then work with the operations team to build our equipment. The less obvious is that our human resources partners with marketing, but we believe that these connections produce great work. (And in this case, we think we proved this right!)

Tiffany went to work on updating and revising our HR policy, with the important things employees need to know like vacation policies and benefit eligibility. Then she worked with Courtney to feature the culture of C³ – what it’s like to actually work here. It was important to tell the C³ story – why we exist, how we work, and the quirks and fun that make our team unique; all wrapped up in an eye-pleasing design.

For a new employee, the goal was to reinstate the inner workings of our business as they learn their way. A new employee shouldn’t have to guess what parking spot he can use, where the bathrooms are, or wonder if they have off for the upcoming holiday. They also shouldn’t have to guess what the dynamic is between different teams, what happens when we shut down for the day, and how to take advantage of continued education funds.

The same is true for our current team. They needed a resource that better matched their personalities than the clip art on our cover. We boast about our dynamic, hardworking, and fun-loving culture, but we didn’t have the policy and paperwork to match. The print-out book definitely wasn’t being referred to regularly or used as a guide through an employees career.

So that got us thinking… 

We needed a guidebook, a field map, a tool for us to use as we navigate our C³ career. This thing sure wouldn’t be called an “Employee Handbook.”

The C³ Employee Almanac

The founder of C³, Joe Van De Hey, grew up on a farm just north of Appleton. He started his engineering career after deciding against investing in a farm of his own. Farming is in his blood, and many of the ideas and prototypes of our machinery are influenced by his experiences working with farm equipment. Many of our employees have farming in their background as well, so it’s ingrained in our culture (we are in Wisconsin ya’ know!)

When it came to finding a title for the book that reflected both the content and our culture, “Almanac” seemed like a perfect fit. The Farmer’s Almanac has been used for decades to predict what’s to come from an agricultural and farm-lifestyle lens. We borrowed “Almanac” for the title of our handbook because when given the almanac, it’ll be a tool to use to have a glimpse at what’s to come in a career at C³.

We made this:

Ah, much better.

We packed the pages with valuable content and parsed out all the legal jargon we could suffice. We wrote the book for our employees in their voice. We strived to create a tool that reflected what it’s like to be on the C³ team.

We think it has a lot more C³-pep than the other book:

Why are we sharing this?

Who cares about our employee handbook? It’s boring enough as it is, and no one likes rules anyway. Plus, why would we share it publicly?

We’re not the first company to revive our dated employee handbook, but we sure hope we’re not the last. Our hope in sharing our journey and the work of Tiffany and Courtney is to inspire other companies to do the same project.

Many times we find ourselves cutting-and-pasting policy because we “have to” instead of thinking differently about what could be said with the same content. This is a marketing idea, and there’s no reason it has to stay in the marketing department. Companies owe it to their employees to give them a great experience, just like they give their customers a great experience. Every interaction with the business should reflect the core values and mission, and in our eyes, that included our handbook.

Entering into the new year, we hope this glimpse into our vision and culture will inspire you to make similar changes in your organization. With a little effort, even the most mundane things about work can delight if you’re willing to say, “Hey! I’m going to make this better!”