In 1997 a group of Fools sat down to write our Fool Rules, the first draft of our Fool Handbook. Individuals from across the company pitched in to write different sections, creating our vision for what life inside our office is like. This was before Netflix touted its unlimited vacation policy, and our no dress code “rules” were unheard of in the Washington DC area: “No more than three colors not found in nature, no viking helmets with strapless dresses”
Inc. magazine did a story on our handbook in 2000, quoting Fool Founder David Gardner:
“Keep in mind that we never planned to start a company in the first place. We were just cranking out a newsletter. The idea that someday we would have employees, not to mention an employee manual, never even occurred to us. One day we looked around and said, ‘Gosh, we have people working here.’ Sometime around 1997, we realized we should have something in writing that explains what we do, how we behave, and what we believe in.”
Recently we’ve enjoyed taking a look at some other great workplaces’ handbooks, such as Valve Software. An employee handbook doesn’t necessarily have to be a list of rules and regulations. A well written one can tell you a lot about what your business values.