Whether you have just hired one or several new employees, your next step should be to ensure that each new member of your team has a smooth transition into the company.  This is where a hospitality staff handbook comes in.  

This document, which is also known as a staff manual, contains information that an employee needs to know while they are working for your company. Not only will the hospitality staff handbook serve as a useful reference point for employees but it will also help them succeed in their new role. Our article illustrates the importance of a staff handbook regardless of the size of your company, and gives you an overview of the points to include in it for compliance. The checklist will come in handy for managing the design and writing process from start to finish. 

Get the full checklist  

Why Should You Implement a Staff Handbook For Your Hotel or Restaurant? 

Because of COVID-19, many roles in the hospitality and tourism industry, including hotel jobs, restaurant jobs, and jobs in cruise ships, have had to undergo certain changes. These changes were particularly related to general hygiene rules, as well as workplace health and safety protocols and crisis management guidelines. National laws that were passed in response to the ill effects of the pandemic on the general population have also had an impact on the hospitality industry. [1] 

All the more is there a need to regularly update the company’s hospitality staff handbook to conform to local laws and the constantly changing international guidelines. Particular attention should be given to updating the staff handbook for customer-facing roles.  

Your employee handbook should not only be made available to newly-hired employees, who are now in great demand with the re-opening of the travel and leisure sector, but also to existing employees who will need to adjust to the evolving new order. New staff should be given an up-to-date handbook during their onboarding, while existing staff should be given an updated staff handbook regularly. This applies to both big and small travel and leisure companies. Having an updated employee handbook will:

  • Give new employees an introduction to the company in written form.
  • Help all employees understand exactly what is expected from them.
  • Inform all employees of their rights.

What Should a Hospitality Staff Handbook Contain?

The responsibility of creating a hospitality staff handbook rests with the HR department. This means that each HR staff member must have up to date knowledge and a good understanding of what the local employment laws dictate, so that they can brief employees competently. Typically, a hospitality staff handbook should contain:

  • An introduction to company culture: Here you can list the guiding principles that define the company culture, such as email and phone etiquette, working with colleagues, communication channels and more.  
  • Legal requirements: This section is the most important and differs per country. The labour laws in France are quite different from those in Spain, for example. Be sure to include local occupational health and safety information, the required probation period, as well as official working hours, maternity and paternity leave and sick leave provisions. If you offer flexible working hours and remote work (depending on the role) be sure to describe them here. They are particularly important post COVID-19. 
  • Employee benefits information: Pay progression details and benefits such as state pension, annual vacation leave and bonuses must be included in this section. 
  • Data protection and confidentiality: Here you must describe how your company deals with data protection laws and regulations, and what the duties of each employee are. 
  • HR policies and procedures: How you will deal with harassment and violence, diversity, equality and inclusion, alcohol and drug misuse, disciplinary actions and grievances, company and personal property, confidentiality and whistleblowing must be included in this section of your staff handbook. 
  • Receiving gifts: Hospitality is an industry where receiving tips is part of some roles. That said, there should be clear rules and regulations for gifts that staff receive from guests to avoid malpractice or unethical behaviour. 
  • Social media usage: Not only does this relate to social media usage at work, but you should also state which employer information your employees are allowed to disclose on their social media accounts. 

10-Step Checklist for Creating Your Hospitality Staff Handbook 

Below are the first 5 steps for creating a hospitality employee handbook that reflects your company culture and complies with local laws: 

1. Decide which main points to include in your handbook

Feel free to use the points we’ve mentioned in this article to determine the contents of your hospitality employee handbook. You will also benefit by reading about and including the current industry practices and local regulations. Be sure to get the right information for each country your business operates in.

2. Use simple language

As much as possible, use easy-to-understand and engaging language. Be clear and concise. Employees should be able to follow the handbook without any problems.

3. Take advantage of visual elements

By using illustrations to explain important points,  reading and understanding the handbook will be easier. Headings, subheadings and bullet points can also be of great help here. 

4. Create a draft

Now that you have listed all the main points, it’s time to create a draft with the right  information, layout, font and graphics.

5. Review and get feedback from colleagues to improve your employee handbook

Getting feedback is a great way to incorporate any points that might have been missed when the handbook was written. Feedback also helps to gauge and manage uniform interpretation, especially from a legal perspective.

Get the full checklist

We hope that our 10-step checklist will save you time and effort when compiling, editing and producing your handbook, such that handing it out becomes easier than you thought.