The code of conduct is a document that provides guidelines on acceptable behaviour that individuals at work should adopt on a day to day basis.
It is important for businesses to have a code of conduct in place as it gives your employees a formal structure to follow. It keeps everything right and ensures your employees are adhering to the expectations set by the Company.
It also serves as a public statement providing both employee and customers of a with understanding of the ethics of the company, how their data is being handled and other information and standards that might concern the public.
Usually, this code has to be accepted by new starters because it helps companies to lay the foundation for the core company values and to maintain its standards. The code of conduct is an essential part of the employee handbook.
Contents of a Code of Conduct
A good code of conduct would contain the following:
- Company Values: These are a set of guiding principles that company holds dear and the expected behaviours of employees. How do you want employees to represent your company? For example, do you want them to have a friendly and informal approach, or perhaps you want them to communicate formally with your customers and clients? It is vital that employees are aware of these, so they can manage your expectations and represent your Company in a desirable way.
Here are some examples of some Company’s core values:
“champion the mission, be a host, simplify, every frame matters, be a ‘cereal’ entrepreneur, and embrace the adventure.”AirBnB
Uber: We build globally, we live locally. We are customer obsessed. We celebrate differences.
- Inappropriate Behaviour – it is vital that you inform employees of examples of appropriate and inappropriate behaviours. For instance, some appropriate behaviours may include being honest, having a positive attitude, and open communication. Inappropriate behaviours may include bullying, swearing, and offensive comments. The disciplinary process would also be referenced if as a means of addressing any unacceptable behaviour.
- Processes – your code of conduct should provide information on the processes employees should follow. For instance, for reporting bad behaviour or sickness/absence.
The Importance of a Code of Conduct
There is no underestimating the importance of a clear and concise Code of Conduct that is jargon-free. With a Code of Conduct, you are setting clear expectations of how employees should behave, to ensure a positive culture within your organisation. Employee misconduct is difficult for employers to manage, particularly if it is not clearly set out, and this is where the Code of Conduct becomes critical. It will show your expectations for the behaviours of employees, including what is acceptable and unacceptable. For instance, employees may feel that it is acceptable to make offensive jokes at work, but if this is clearly set out in your Code of Conduct, you will have this for them to refer to. This saves any confusion, as the expected behaviour is documented.
If anyone is on the receiving end of negative behaviour, such as bullying and harassment, it also provides them with information on how to deal with this and the repercussions for the person responsible, such as dismissal. Your Code of Conduct must be in line with the employment law. For instance, legislation around protected characteristics.
For instance, making it clear what constitutes bullying and harassment, and how they should tackle this issue. Employees would usually sign off the Code of Conduct, usually during their onboarding to show that they understand the contents and that they are willing to adhere to it. Employers would then be able to refer back to this if any difficult situation arises relating to the behaviour of employees.