The company employee manual: Just saying those words is enough to lull you into a boredom-induced coma. And the idea of actually reading the content within–likely drier than the paper it’s printed on–is unthinkable.
An employee manual is a fixture of company culture, but just because it’s a fixture doesn’t mean it should follow a corporate formula. Bill Fisher, CEO of EF China and president of EF Digital Learning Labs, has transformed his company’s manual into a wonderfully animated booklet that manages to get its points across (company values, expectations, goals, etc.) but with a playful, children’s book-like design that employees have truly responded to.
“We have employees from all around the world consuming this book, so we wanted to make it something that wasn’t beating them over the head with a piece of corporate speak, but was something readable, digestible, and entertaining,” Fisher says.
In the mid-2000s, EF Education First, an international education company, had a surprising boom in China that resulted in thousands of employees coming on the payroll. Fisher says the company had a manual before, but its current iteration, released in 2012 and illustrated by artist Ping Zhu, came out of the hiring spree in China. That’s when he and his team sat down to rethink not only the company’s values, but how exactly to present them to a growing employee base that’s now at 40,000.
“EF is a service company. I think every company thinks its core values are important but in our case because our product is people, we really felt that it was important to try and codify and evangelize what an EF person is like. So we sat down and we tried to write it down,” Fisher says. “We’re a company that tries not to take itself too seriously, so I think the whole idea of a corporate manual about values is a little un-EF, to be honest. We thought this was a necessary but unnatural act, so we tried to create some humor in it and make it a little lighter so it would embody the culture as we were trying to preach our values. I would call it playful–EF has a very playful corporate culture.”