What is a company code of conduct?

A company code of conduct is a formal document that explains acceptable workplace behavior and practices to ensure employee alignment with company values and culture.   

The backbone of any business, a code of conduct provides structure and guidance for employees of every job-level to act with integrity and appropriate behavior. 

A comprehensive company code of conduct can include information concerning:

  • Ethics and values
  • Fair employment 
  • Workplace safety policies
  • Violence, bullying, and harassment
  • Physical and mental health
  • Disciplinary actions against employees who breach the code
  • Confidentiality protecting employees who file a complaint

Why should HR leaders care about a company code of conduct?

A well-written code of conduct with simple, easy-to-reference guidelines:

  • Empower employees with rules and information of proper conduct
  • Prevent the organization and employees from entering risky territory
  • Ensure employee behavior aligns with company values

What can HR leaders do to ensure compliance with a company code of conduct?

While developing an up-to-date and fair company code of conduct is crucial, it’s equally important to enforce it. HR leaders can implement these practical steps to encourage employees to adhere to the code:

  • Collaborate. HR leaders can cooperate with employees to develop the company code of conduct. Involving employees in this initiative empowers them and instills a feeling of collective responsibility. 
  • Educate. HR professionals can frequently educate employees and managers on the different aspects of the code of conduct during training sessions and discussion groups. This helps encourage a thorough understanding of the organization’s behavioral standards and accepted practices.   
  • Infuse. To ensure that employees and managers internalize the company practices, HR leaders can infuse the code into the company culture by including it in the:
    • Onboarding process
    • Company-wide newsletter
    • Friendly and informative posters circulated throughout the workplace
    • Manager training sessions
  • Train and coach managers. Managers and supervisors should understand that they are responsible for setting an example for employees to follow the company code of conduct. If an employee does need to file a complaint, managers should consider it a priority, and carve out time to meet privately with employees. This encourages employees to feel that their managers are available and approachable. 
  • Apply the code to everyone. Employees of all levels need to follow the code of conduct. HR leaders can draft a code of conduct specifically designed for managers, to equip them with the skills and tools to build a positive, safe, and healthy work environment. 

How can a code of conduct improve company culture?

A concise, simple, and comprehensive code of conduct functions as a company backbone, promoting upright conduct and acceptable behavior among employees of all tiers. It encourages physical and mental safety and fairness and equality. Employees who are valued by employers will feel more motivated to work at a high-performance level and contribute positive energy to build a healthy and wholesome company culture.