Image is everything in the business world. Corporate values must be solid in the age of consumers campaigning on social media. Companies are at the mercy of fluctuating opinions, facing embarrassment and boycotts in the wake of controversies. Corporate codes of conduct are essential for emphasizing core values, expectations, and culture. Ethical codes lay the groundwork for the corporate personality.
A Silent Significance
A code of conduct gives employees a structural guide on how they should conduct themselves and represent the organization. For many companies, employee behavior is improved. According to a study by the Ethics Resource Center, organizations with a code in place experience less employee misconduct and a lower level of retaliation on the job.
Developing a Code of Conduct
There are a few steps involved in developing a strong code of conduct:
- Determine the values of the company.
This is the groundwork for how your employees get and keep clients. It also outlines the internal standards of how employees are treated and how management should operate.
- Get input from the employees.
Employees should be an integral part of the process in developing the code of conduct. In many organizations however, a code of conduct is written solely from a management perspective. Leaving out employee opinion or feedback can create difficulty with employee buy in. The more feedback employees can provide, the more invested they feel as part of the organization.
- Maintain balance.
The code of conduct should address acceptable behavior and values, but not be so specific that it creates resentment. It should address sensitive issues that may generally be off-limits, such as interoffice relationships or harassment of other employees.
- Establish order.
Once this code is developed, it should be introduced to employees in a positive, non-judgmental manner. It should be an optimistic time, emphasizing how the company is moving forward in developing sound business practices for the organization.
Codes of conducts are not written in stone. Changes in the organization, industry, and regulatory requirements occur every year. Failing to keep current on changing risks and challenges is a common mistake. A periodic review may be necessary to assess whether it’s effective and if new information needs to be added. The main questions to ask during this time is, “Does this represent where we want to be? Does this truly reflect the values of our organization?” It’s also important to note that any changes to the code shouldn’t be too frequent; employee buy in and re-training will take time.
The code of conduct should also be disseminated to the board of directors, customers, business partners, and potential employees. It should be reflected in certain business communications to demonstrate its importance and your commitment to higher standards.
Having an ethics guide for compliance at work is essential to the overall success of your organization. If your company needs to develop or refresh a code of conduct, 360training.com offers a complete range of web-based courses to guide you through the process. Browse our online training solutions for more information!