A code of conduct applies to everyone within an organisation, with each company having their own code of conduct that employees need to follow. A code of conduct is created by the employer to let their staff members know what is expected of them in terms of behaviour in the workplace. This purpose means that the code applies to everyone within the business to create a compliant and efficient workforce.
A code of conduct reflects an organisation's daily operations, their core values and overall company culture. Writing a code of conduct requires a thorough understanding of the company, its culture and their vision. This all means that every code is unique to the business it represents.
It also means there isn't one set code of conduct that every company implements. Whatever the business, the code needs to cover all areas relevant to the employees, answer any questions they have, and be written in an accessible format. Making sure your code of conduct follows these guidelines means that you can produce a consistent understanding with all members of the team, as well as enhancing your brand image for future business.
The Need for a Code of Conduct
Having a code of conduct in place is good practice within a business of any size for several reasons:
- It helps define the company culture quickly
- It sets standards and expectations for employees to follow when it comes to their behaviour
- It lets your customers and partners know your values, and from there they can work out if they want to work with you – creating a level of transparency for a healthy business relationship
Employers might want to believe that their staff know what's right and wrong, but by having a code of conduct, you can clarify what behaviour is acceptable and what needs to be prevented, making everyone's lives a bit easier. Having rules to follow gives employees a structure from the moment they enter the company, making the whole process much more black and white.
As well as setting out the rules that staff need to follow, a code of conduct also explains the process of reporting a violation of company policy, as well as showing staff what the consequences are of using false information in an attempt to conceal violation.
Some Examples of Unacceptable Behaviour a Code of Conduct Could be:
- Taking shortcuts in your work to get the job done quicker. This is because there could be adverse side-effects
- Treating people badly due to their race, gender, social class or religion. This is known as workplace discrimination
- Using business resources for personal use, because if you were to "borrow" money for personal use without authorisation, you are essentially stealing from the company
By having a set of rules for your business to follow, not only does it have a positive impact on the workforce, but your brand image is enhanced, attracting more customers ready to bring you their business as a result.
Hershey's code of conduct is attractive and appealing, drawing inspiration from the company's line of chocolate products. This code of conduct is extremely well written and organized, specifying what it means to be part of the Hershey team and how each individual can contribute to the values of the organization by complying with the company standards.
They also include several "what if?" scenarios to help employees make decisions when confronting problems such as reporting harassment. This code of conduct does an excellent job of promoting Hershey's culture while clearly indicating how employees should act by answering questions they may have.
This example highlights how the Hershey code of conduct applies to all its employees, and this is the same to all other businesses that use a code to create a better workforce.