A business is nothing without a unified workforce. Not only in terms of long term objectives and goals, but also with regards to workplace culture and brand principles. For the sake of employee wellbeing, as well as your professional reputation, a set of clearly defined rules outlining appropriate behaviour is essential. This is known as a code of conduct.
Regardless of industry or sector, a code of conduct exists as a guiding document within a professional environment. Utilised correctly, these guidelines will clarify the behavioural expectations of employee and employer alike, encouraging positive interactions and a welcoming workplace.
Below, we’ll explore the contents and benefits of an expertly crafted code of conduct.
What Is A Code Of Conduct?
Before diving into the contents and specifics of a code of conduct, it is important to clarify the basic purpose of the document. As touched upon above, a code of conduct is a set of clearly articulated written rules, designed to convey an organisation’s expectations with regards to employee behaviour. Not only will a code of conduct reiterate a business’ values, mission and principles, it will also outline the ways in which employees are expected to conduct themselves within the workplace or when representing the company.
Crucially, a code of conduct is not the same as a code of ethics. Though the two are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Whilst a code of ethics is concerned with moral principles and decision making, a code of conduct focuses on the actions of individuals. This is not to say that a company’s code of ethics does not inform its code of conduct, but the latter is typically more specific.
We’ll explore this in more detail below, but it is important to note that a code of conduct does not replace policies or procedures, nor is it a contractual agreement. The primary purpose of a code of conduct is to ensure a healthy working environment and foster positive employee interactions.
What Is Included In A Code Of Conduct?
Although every business will have a unique set of requirements, a code of conduct will typically address those elements most closely related to employee behaviour. This might include:
- Company vision/mission statement
- Employee rights
- Legal compliance
- Professional expectations
- Diversity and inclusion
- Discrimination and harassment policy
- Corporate social responsibility
- Unacceptable behaviours and consequences
- Training guidelines
- Disciplinary processes
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for businesses; a well-structured, effective code of conduct will be specifically tailored to suit your company-specific requirements. However, this is no small task. To ensure efficacy, it is crucial that a code of conduct document is constructed by HR professionals. This will usually exist alongside an employee handbook or similar.
Why Is A Code Of Conduct Important?
The fundamental benefits of a code of conduct are fairly self explanatory; a unified understanding of acceptable behaviour is conducive to a more productive work environment and a greater sense of overall employee wellbeing. Of course, this document’s benefits extend far beyond basic behavioural expectations. Below are a handful of benefits associated with a well-written code of conduct.
Clarity and Communication
First and foremost, a code of conduct eliminates the need for guesswork regarding what behaviour is deemed acceptable. From employee interactions to meetings and client facing work, a code of conduct ensures that every member of your organisation is well aware of the behavioural expectations, brand values and standards.
Moreover, a clearly communicated code of conduct significantly reduces the margin for misunderstandings regarding acceptable actions. An employee needn’t wonder whether their actions will be considered appropriate or not as the guidelines are clearly laid out.
Respect and Inclusivity
Secondly, by outlining respectful behaviour and inclusivity as core components, a code of conduct helps create an environment where every employee feels valued and included. As mentioned previously, a well-structured code of conduct often includes policies against discrimination and harassment based on factors such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and more. These policies make it clear that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated, creating a safe and inclusive environment for all employees. This, in turn, promotes diversity and ensures that individuals from all backgrounds can thrive.
Company Reputation & Social Responsibility
Of course, the benefits associated with a well-written code of conduct extend beyond internal operations; a code of conduct also has a significant impact on a company’s external image and reputation. In an era where corporate social responsibility is increasingly important, a well-constructed code of conduct can enhance a company’s reputation in several ways.
Not only does a code of conduct ensure that individuals conduct themselves in a manner that aligns with an organisation’s core principles and brand image, it also demonstrates a business’ commitment to corporate social responsibility. In other words, a code of conduct may outline an organisation’s efforts to support the local community and minimise negative social impact.
How Do You Create A Code Of Conduct?
It goes without saying that the creation of a well-structured code of conduct is no small task; it requires an in-depth understanding of HR process, policy and procedure. Moreover, it requires an HR specialist with an understanding of your company’s specific requirements.
At the HR Dept, our tailored solutions are what set us apart from other companies. Whether you’re in need of a code of conduct, employee training or a comprehensive HR management service, we’re here to help.