Company policies cover a broad spectrum of topics, but their bottom line is simple. Policies tell employees how to behave. Most company policies are in place to ensure safety in the workplace as well as fair treatment for employees. Employee conduct policies specifically sets the standards of expected behavior for employees and provides information they need to act with integrity in the workplace and in compliance with laws, regulations and company policies.
What areas should your policies address?
- Behavior: Behavior guidelines typically address topics, such as harassment, work attire and language. Workers who don’t follow codes of conduct may receive written and verbal warnings, and ultimately be terminated.
- Integrity: A key component to workplace ethics and behavior is integrity, or being honest and doing the responsible thing at all times.
- Accountability: Being responsible for our actions is an important factor when it comes to workplace ethics and behavior. That means showing up on scheduled workdays, as well as arriving on time and putting in an honest effort while on the job.
- Teamwork: A vital aspect of the workplace is working well with others. That includes everyone from peers to supervisors to customers. While not all employees will always like each other, they do need to set aside their personal or even work-related differences to reach a larger goal.
- Commitment: The importance of dedication cannot be understated.. Although possessing the necessary skills is essential, a strong work ethic and positive attitude toward the job can carry you a long way.
For small businesses, most work rules will be optional. However, federal and state laws may require your business to have and distribute policies regarding certain workplace issues such as smoking, drugs and alcohol, and sexual harassment. In the areas that are regulated by law, you have no choice but to comply by instituting workplace rules!
So what could happen if your company has an issue with less than exemplary conduct? It could cost the company money, and it could cost you your job. Employers provide an employee handbook to guide staff members on appropriate conduct and limit possible problems. In addition to the written guidelines, the companies culture and general rules of social etiquette also dictate appropriate staff behavior.
- Company Image: Employees are the face of a business, and the public will judge your company based on employees’ conduct. Having rules of behavior clearly laid out, employers will easily be able to terminate bad-mannered employees.
- Work Disruption: Inappropriate behavior at the office is distracting for other employees and interrupts the workflow. This lost time is expensive for the employer. Frequent disruptive behavior is also grounds for termination.
- Security: Inappropriate behavior at work can arise from the way employees handle sensitive information. A careless display or intentionally sharing such information could cause legal and financial problems for a company.
- Office Interaction: Proper office conduct is also important when interacting with co-workers. Polite behavior between employees creates a pleasant work environment. Negative attitudes or a gossip fueled workplace can cause misunderstandings and differences, which can create a hostile workplace. This could lead to multiple problems for the employer, such as low productivity, loss of employees and possible legal action.