Instead of a CYA legal requirement or behavior mandate, create your Code of Conduct to be a decision guide for employees. If there’s an ethical conundrum about the actions of a coworker, supplier, or supervisor, they have a reference that clearly lays out the employee’s responsibility and next steps.
Like any employee communication, even one that’s a legal requirement, it needs to be understandable if the goal is to offer direction or advice. Is your Code of Conduct engaging? Written in plain language? Does it reflect company culture?
Read on to learn some tips. Then at the end, download our sample Code of Conduct.
Did the Pandemic or Remote Work Reveal Issues To Be Addressed?
You may want to consider adding language to your Code of Conduct that addresses topics like defiance of safety regulations, confidentiality during online meetings at home, doing only work during work hours, etc.
How Does It Help with Decision Making?
If Pat in purchasing learns that a coworker has used company money to buy supplies from their spouse’s company, should she let someone know?
If driver Dale is asked to make an off-route stop to pick up his manager’s new hot tub, is that okay?
If Sandy in sales is going on an all-paid vacation with a customer, could Taylor in travel get in trouble for not telling someone?
Those are three real-world dilemmas that employees might find themselves in (okay, maybe not the hot tub). A Code of Conduct would be a great reference for clarification and points of contact — if employees can easily access, navigate, and understand the document.
Tips To Make It More Helpful
Whether it’s a Microsoft Word document or a colorful designed piece, there are ways to make your Code of Conduct helpful…to employees and the legal team.
- Sections with meaningful headers and sub headers (and no Roman numerals!)
- Real-world examples in most sections
- Callout boxes to highlight key information
- An anonymous hotline number, promoted throughout the document
- Short paragraphs and sentences, with no legal jargon
Of course, we vote for a colorful Code of Conduct, with intentional design that supports the message. And we recently did just that for a client.
Download Our Sample Code of Conduct