The workplace is governed by rules which serve to maintain order and uniformity in the workplace. Codes of conduct are explanations of policies that employees are required to adhere to in their companies. Without codes of conducts, employees may not have the proper guidance for behaviour and ethical standards that their employers expect from them. Additionally, codes of conduct allow stakeholders and interested entities to review an organisation commitment to integrity and ethicality.
The Fair Labor Association explains that codes of conduct are compliance documents that have authoritative undertones. Companies provide staff with codes of conduct at the beginning of employment so that employees know exactly what is expected of them from the get go. Codes of conduct are also made available to the company's workforce, and may be reissued when there are updates or changes to the documents. Additionally, codes of conduct may be made public so that stakeholders can review them.
Codes of conduct are written by companies as a means of inspiring excellence in the workplace. They establish the responsibilities and behavioural guidelines for employees to adhere to in order to make the company's work environment more successful. According to the International Labour Organization, they are also designed to foster good ethical conduct, which is expected to be upheld by employees and stakeholders. In essence, codes of conduct serve to protect businesses against unprofessional behaviours and unethical incidents that could jeopardise a company's reputation and profitability.
Codes of conduct contain information that is important for employees to know, such as how to maintain a harassment free workplace and what conflict of interest means. Also included in codes of conduct may be policies about maintaining a drug free work environment, how the company will ensure the health and safety of employees and what their policy is for a nondiscrimination workplace. According to the Association for Computing Machinery, codes of conduct may feature questions and answers, definitions, guidelines and examples of encouraged or discouraged workplace behaviour.
A code of conduct serves as a contractual agreement between the employer and the employee. Many companies even require their employees to sign a document stating that they have received and agree to abide by the employee code of conduct. Employers will hold employees to the standards outlined in the code of conduct.
To violate a code of conduct could result in disciplinary action or termination, depending on the severity of the violation. Codes of conduct will identify what potential consequences are and how to tell if the code of conduct was violated.