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Code of Conduct

Published June 20, 2018 (last updated on April 18, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer

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Why is Code of Conduct Important?

Every company conducts its business in different ways. From the way employees act to dealing with customers and delivering products or services. Establishing a code of conduct helps employees understand what kind of behaviour is expected from them and how the company wants to do business on a daily basis.

As the bedrock of future management action, it is important to have a well-drafted code of conduct, and employees who understand their expectations and obligations.

A clear and transparent code of conduct helps to avoid confusion in staff expectations and prevents inappropriate behaviour. It also promotes a positive ethical culture where staff are treated equally and with respect.

Drafting a Code of Conduct

Writing a code of conduct can be tricky and may require numerous revisions until it satisfies everyone. For this reason, the process should be collaborative and involve feedback from staff at every level including department heads, management, HR and other relevant team members.

No two businesses are the same. Each code of conduct must be tailored to suit the individual needs of the business and their unique environments. By taking into consideration the different aspects of the business, the code will be easier to implement and manage over the long term.

Examples of good policies in a code of conduct are:

  • What behaviour is and is not acceptable in the workplace

  • How to treat staff, management and customers with equal respect

  • Examples of good ethics and values to uphold

  • The importance of good behaviour and the effect it has on the work environment

  • Making good use of judgement in different situations

  • How to comply with relevant industry legislation

  • Clear examples of misconduct and serious misconduct and the consequence of such actions

Before committing to the final draft, get honest feedback from all staff. Consider their feedback when drafting and revising the code. Finally, ensure the guidelines are consistent with other rules and policies in the workplace.

Implementing the Code of Conduct in the Workplace

Writing a code of conduct is not enough. Implementing the code means effectively communicating the guidelines to staff and reinforcing the behaviours by ensuring that management leads by example. Management needs to uphold the same values and ethics too. There are many ways to communicate the code to staff, however be mindful of language barriers and the availability of information as an obstacle to effective implementation. Selecting the right channels to get the message across is important.

The most effective ways to communicate and implement the code are:

  • Induction Training: For new employers and employees. The induction may also include work health and safety guidelines, training manuals, mission statements and other relevant information.

  • One-on-One Training: Delivered to new and existing employees by the owner, management, a HR staff member or supervisor.

  • Employee Handbook: Freely available in the workplace and break room for staff to read and refresh their knowledge.

  • Company Intranets: Housing the code of conduct in a central place on your company intranet ensures office-based staff can access it at all times.

  • Online Training: Available to view on the company web portal and/or free to download in an accessible format such as Word or PDF.

  • Noticeboard: Placed around the workplace to ensure staff are up-to-date on the code.

When implementing the code, get regular feedback from staff and ensure the terms are clear and easy to understand. If any staff are unclear on the code, offer extra resources and training to get them up to speed.

There is no requirement for an employee to agree with the code of conduct however it is recommended that all staff acknowledge receiving the document.

For advice on drafting, implementing and reviewing a code of conduct, fill out the online form to request a free consultation with a workplace relations specialist or call our advice team. 

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