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a group of people at a table, learning about the importance of employee training manuals

Whether you are just entering the workforce or are a seasoned veteran, chances are high that you will read a few employee training manuals in the coming years. If you are a new employee entering a company or are preparing to train a new employee, having a good employee training manual at your fingertips can be priceless, the benefits of which are supported by multinational corporations, such as IBM. However, these documents don’t last forever. Rather, they should grow and evolve with your business. Keeping your training manuals up to date with current company policy and procedures is critical. They can also benefit workflow efficiency and success.

What Makes Up Good Employee Training Manuals?

Every document included in your business’s documentation suite is important. However, few are as important as employee training manuals. When employees join your company, they must have the right information. This will help make their transition as smooth as possible and also help ensure that they act in accordance with company policy. However, not just any training documentation will do. A good employee training manual gives a set of instructions that will improve the quality of a job, process, or task done by an employee through accessible and clear language.

When it comes to writing employee training manuals, it is important to be mindful of how, and by whom, they will be read. One key point to consider when you create a training manual is how easily the information you include can be followed. If your manual uses too much technical jargon or is overly complicated and verbose, it may be hard to understand. Training documents that are hard to understand will likely confuse both current and future employees, causing business delays and mistakes.

Negatively impacting an employee’s understanding of what their tasks are and how they should be performed is the last thing any employer wants to do. To help avoid this, keep your employee training manuals clear and concise. Only include the necessary information that an employee needs to correctly do their job. It can also be helpful to provide contact information for employees’ direct reports in case they have any questions or concerns.

Who Do Employee Training Manuals Benefit?

Having good employee training manuals is something that benefits all members of a company. Whether considering new employees, managers, or top-level executives, having a well-structured and -written training document such as employee training manuals can set a high standard for communication, clarity, and excellence in your company. This can be additionally beneficial when it comes to communicating with current and potential clients. It is not unusual for these parties to want to know more about your company’s rules and procedures for how work is completed during a project; having this information on hand and well-documented can seal the deal.

two people at a desk, writing employee training manuals

How Do You Write a Good Employee Training Manual?

Knowing the steps needed to write any type of document is always the first step. This is especially true when considering technical documentation such as employee training manuals. When asking the question of how to write training manuals, know that there are several options where you may find the answer. For your convenience, listed below are six steps used by professional technical writers when writing an employee training manual:

1: Identify the Key Objective(s)

Identifying the key objective(s) of your employee training manuals is the first step. However, this is not always an easy step. As technology constantly changes, so is the way many companies do business. Even without the adoption of new technology, changes in management or business strategy are likely to happen. This often necessitates an adjustment or overhaul of your employee training manual. Whether you are creating a training manual for the first time or are adjusting an existing one, it is important to first identify your objective. Part of understanding the primary objective should be identifying and building upon your employee’s strengths, which can simultaneously help them overcome their weaknesses.

2: Collaborate With Others

Even if you are a seasoned company veteran, it is best to not write employee training manuals on your own. This process can be incredibly difficult, and not collaborating with others means that you lose valuable insight and other forms of company knowledge that could be helpful to include in your employee training manual. Thus, the best course of action when writing technical documentation such as training manuals is to collaborate with others.

We recommend you get input and help from a variety of different departments within your organization. Afterward, you can tap into these contacts and assign specific roles such as manual designer, writer, editor, etc. The more people you can have on deck to source information from, the more detail-oriented your employee training manual will be. Ultimately, this will make your training manual as useful and efficient as possible.

3: Identify Your Target Audience

With any piece of writing, identifying your audience is key. When beginning to create a training manual, understanding your specific audience will help shape the final outcome of the document. Ask yourself: Who am I speaking to with this document?

If the answer to the question is new employees, it is important to include notes about general company policy and code. If the target audience for your training manual is current employees making an internal department shift, you may be able to condense the general content. The language needed to write an effective training manual will be different based on the type of jobs your employees will do. For example, writing for construction workers requires a different approach than writing for a local coffee shop. Once you identify your audience, you can create an employee training manual that contains the necessary information for your employees to do their jobs efficiently.

4: Determine What You Will Include

So, you have identified your objective, connected with other knowledgeable parties, and identified your specific audience. What now? When you go to write out the content of the employee training manual, a critical part is being able to determine what information should be included. You do not want to include too much or too little, which risks confusing employees. However, it can be difficult to hit the sweet spot. If you decide to prioritize cutting down the information as much as possible, you risk missing certain key points and critical chunks of information. This can lead to a lack of understanding among employees and potential business disruptions.

On the other hand, adding in all the information possible is also a risk. If you overload your training manual with information, it will be difficult for employees to discern the key points, which is likely to cause internal confusion. The best route to take is to make every word count. The more valuable information that you include, the more you help employees perform to the best of their abilities in the workplace. Some sections that are always important to include would be your expectations from your employees, as well as key business policies and any legal obligations.

5: Outline the Necessary Tools

You wouldn’t show up to a construction site with a knitting needle, or a bakery with a power drill. Likewise, it is important to ensure that both current and future employees know what programs, procedures, and policies to employ in their respective work. Regardless of your industry or business size, it is important to make sure your employees know what the right tools to use are. This helps set employees up for success. Additionally, giving employees a basic understanding of your business practices can be helpful. This will enable employees to better connect the tools you have given them with your business practices. Manuals are critical in maintaining efficient business operations.

6: Create a Feedback Loop While Developing the Final Draft

Now, you have all of the steps in place to create a training manual. What comes next? Unfortunately, it is perhaps the hardest part. This is developing the training documentation. If you’ve followed the first five steps, this process will be much smoother. However, it is important to remember that first drafts are rarely perfect. So, the next best step is to create a feedback loop. You should include key informants in the company who can identify weak points or unclear communication in your work. This group can consist of recent employees, veteran employees, and managers, all of whom have a unique perspective to help your documentation become the best it can be.

Using feedback to edit your drafts is key. It helps ensure that your employee training manuals contain all of the information needed for employees to perform their jobs correctly. Gathering this feedback can also guide you in eliminating portions of the document that do not make sense or do not flow, which could be confusing to new employees. Once the final draft has been completed and approved by the members of your feedback loop, you can consider the job well done.

When it is time to distribute your employee training manuals, it can be helpful to consider which format is most beneficial or efficient for the job. Increased use of technology and remote work are both compelling reasons to share the training documentation digitally. However, it is always beneficial to have a few physical copies on hand in case of a technological failure. 

a group of employees sitting in an office, covered in whiteboards and colorful notepaper, going through employee training manuals

Training Manuals vs Modules

Training manuals are great for when you are onboarding new employees, because all necessary information is easily accessible and in one place. However, for existing or returning employees, you may want to use a training module instead. Training modules are similar to training manuals, but are often shorter and more focused on a specific topic to help employees polish their skills. You can have training modules for all types of tasks, such as using software, data entry, new opening and closing procedures, and more.

Whether you are refreshing employees on previous training or just want an employee to learn something new to expand their skill set, a training module might be the better way to go. It can be helpful to visualize the difference between employee training manuals and training modules with a real-life example. Think of a training module as a chapter of a book; each chapter can be a new module. A training manual would be a whole book by itself.

Benefits of a Training Manual

Whether it is a restaurant training manual or a CDL training manual, having the right documentation to prepare employees is essential. When it comes to running a successful business, one of the most important steps you can take to ensure company growth, success, and employee satisfaction is to help ensure employees’ success. All of these factors can play into boosting your bottom line. To do this, however, you have to provide them with the right tools for the job.

Developing employee training manuals has many benefits. One of the most immediate benefits is that your employees will be empowered with the tools and information to work more efficiently and effectively. Having efficient employees through training is key for both business operations and customer service. When customers interact with well-informed employees, they are more likely to be happy with the service you are providing, building brand loyalty and customer trust.

Another huge benefit to using employee training manuals is that they can help inform current employees about future training programs or changes in company policy. Companies are bound to grow and change over time. Often these changes necessitate shifts in company policy. The last thing you want is for changes to not be communicated to or understood by employees, disrupting normal business operations.

Further, incorporating these changes into employee training manuals or modules prevents catching any employees off guard when they are expected to abide by new policies and regulations. If not done with communication and clarity at the forefront, these changes can lead to a breakdown in productivity which may affect your customer service, efficiency, or even worse, your business operations.

But Wait, There’s More!

Having employee training manuals and integrating their use into your company promotes a growth mindset in employees. By providing well-written, concise training manuals, you can ensure that your employees are always learning and honing their skill set to be the most effective possible. While some veteran employees may think that they know everything there is to know, there is still an opportunity for them to learn as your business evolves with the changing world around it. Every day and moment can be a learning and teaching experience, for both new and experienced employees alike.

The biggest benefit of employee training manuals, however, may be that they optimize the process of onboarding new employees for peak effectiveness and efficiency. The training process can be very long and stressful for both employees and employers. However, it does not have to be this way. Utilizing employee training manuals can smooth the training process and help ensure new employees’ success in their roles with your company. With employee turnover rates rising, it has never been more important to have a streamlined process when onboarding new hires; they are key to being able to replace employees who choose to leave or do not work out. 


Having a training manual is an important part of running any successful business, no matter your industry or company size. Training manuals are critically important to all because every company deals with the struggle of translating information and task assignments to new employees, or to current employees after a change in company policy or procedure.

It is essential to streamline the tough employee onboarding process as much as possible for the sake of both employees and employers. Together, using employee training manuals, your employees can reach their full potential. When it comes to building the right employee training manuals for your business, the writers at Essential Data can help. We are here to help you make your employees as successful as possible, every step of the way.

Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or to get started.