In various areas of life, setting expectations is crucial. For instance, when renting an apartment with a roommate, establishing a rule such as keeping the front door locked is necessary. In the business world, setting expectations is even more important as it provides clarity to all employees and sets the company up for success. A fundamental aspect of this is writing a comprehensive code of conduct. A code of conduct is a set of guidelines that outline the expectations employers have for their employees regarding values, standards, rules, and principles. It also specifies acceptable behaviors and norms that employees must follow. A business’s core values and mission are typically incorporated into the code of conduct, which serves as a foundation for other company policies. This information about employee behavior and interactions should be included in the company’s employee handbook. To create a code of conduct, businesses often rely on harassment prevention software to deliver standard learning content on rules, principles, and standards that employees should uphold.
It is essential to note that a code of conduct should not be confused with a code of ethics. While a code of conduct guides behavior and incorporates elements of company culture, a code of ethics is broader and provides principles that affect the employee mindset and decision-making process. Both of these components should be a part of an employee handbook.
Regardless of a business’s size, writing a code of conduct is critical. It ensures that everyone, from the CEO to the interns and even the board of directors, knows the expectations set by leadership. By putting expectations in writing, a business creates a framework that allows everyone to provide support. It also elaborates on a company’s values, highlighting acceptable and unacceptable behavior. If decided to be shared publicly, potential employees can learn more about a company’s business ethics, values, and morals before interviewing. Additionally, clear expectations make it easier to create a healthy working environment where all employees behave professionally. The code of conduct should steer behavior by aligning conduct with company values and ensure that everyone feels safe at work. It also adheres to applicable laws, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which requires public companies to implement codes of conduct. Finally, it improves employee morale by reinforcing behavior that treats everyone equally and with respect, which can help retain top talent.
A code of conduct includes work policies, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, actions, and consequences. While there is no template for a code of conduct, it should detail a company’s values, ethics, and responsibility, employee behavior and action, internal policies, external policies, and misconduct. It is essential to outline what qualifies as misconduct and the necessary policies surrounding it explicitly. Knowing how to handle a breach in a code of conduct is crucial. The disciplinary proceedings for different elements of the code of conduct will vary, and it’s wise to outline that disciplinary action, including termination, may be necessary for breaching a code of conduct.
When writing a code of conduct policy, it’s crucial to consider the industry and remember these six tips to make sure it is comprehensive and clear. First, involve employees in the process. Second, keep it concise and straightforward. Third, ensure it aligns with the business’s mission and values. Fourth, make sure it is easy to access and understand. Fifth, regularly review and update it. Finally, train employees on it and enforce it consistently.