6 Things to Include in Your Code of Conduct
By including these six key components, a code of conduct policy is more than a guideline for conduct, it’s a true symbol of the company itself.
There’s a reason that most company owners choose to implement a code of conduct in the workplace.
Employers provide the necessary tools for work, such as pens and paper, so it only makes sense to also provide the tools for staff to conduct themselves appropriately at work.
A good code of conduct policy is a rulebook for conduct, but a great code of conduct truly represents the company’s values and culture. So, the real question is: how do I make my good code of conduct great?
The following six are tried and true elements of a great code of conduct policy.
Creating any kind of company-wide policy is a lot of pressure. Let us help with this Code of Conduct Template.
Message from the CEO
There’s something sincere and heartfelt about a document that begins with a message from the CEO.
It expresses leadership’s devotion and allegiance to the same values that employees are expected to appreciate.
This should be written firsthand by the CEO and with a photo and signature. Use this as an opportunity to set the tone for the entire policy. If you’re trying to embrace the casual culture of the company, opt for an informal photo without the tie.
Company values are the foundation on which a code of conduct is built. Does the company favor honesty? Respect? Innovation? If you want your employees to get on board with appropriate conduct they’ll need a bit of context, and company values provide just that.
Check out 18 of the Best Code of Conduct Examples for all the inspiration you need.
The values that a company upholds says a lot about its founders, management, investors and employees. It’s like the age-old game of “if you were stranded on a deserted island, name three things you’d bring”. Your answer says a lot more than you think, so choose your values wisely.
Respect for Others
A code of conduct policy will explain what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior. This refers to interactions between colleagues, employees and employers, clients, customers, stakeholders, and competitors.
Clarify what the company sees as appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Describe “good” behavior such as:
- Open communication
- Working honestly
And list “bad” behavior too, such as:
- Being violent
- Making offensive comments or jokes
A good approach to defining good and bad behavior is simply by asking employees what they think. Check out our article on How to Write a Code of Conduct for more information on consulting with others to develop the company policy.
Respect for the Community
Respect for the community is a relatively new section for codes of conduct but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
Companies now have a bigger role to play. Society is forming expectations for companies to be involved in the community and interacting with the environment in a responsible way.
Take a page out of The Hershey Company’s Code of Conduct when they say, “We are good global citizens”. The company dedicates several pages to discuss environmental responsibility, investing in communities, participating in volunteer programs and the importance of giving back.
Violations and Reporting Misconduct
A company’s code of conduct needs to clarify what happens if an employee is found violating the clauses in this policy and how employees can report misconduct they witness.
Clarify the company’s stance on reporting. Do you have an open-door policy? What is the reporting process for misconduct? Is it anonymous?
Then, discuss how violations are dealt with. Does the company use a zero-tolerance approach? Will an internal investigation take place? What are the possible consequences of acting inappropriately?
The final piece to include in your code of conduct is a section that includes compliance resources.
The best codes of conduct policies provide employees with the background reading and supplementary information they need to understand the policy properly. This isn’t to say that employees need to be experts on conduct.
These extras might be laws, regulations or policies that are relevant to the code of conduct.