Many people confuse the code of conduct and the employee handbook.
The employee handbook contains all of the company's policies, of which the code of conduct is one.
So when writing your code, don't feel the need to cover every base by including every policy expectation. That's what the employee handbook is for. Keep your code short-up to two pages plus a personal note from you-for maximum impact, focusing on key behaviors that you want to highlight.
The Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI) has an excellent set of free resources available on its site to assist you in creating your code of conduct. Follow these steps to optimize your code writing experience.
- 1. Choose your key words that represent your company values. A list of value words and their definitions is here:
- 2. Choose the provisions you want to include in your code of conduct:
- 3. Write your code of conduct. Here are some writing style pointers:
and a sample code of conduct for a small business: https://resources.workable.com/employee-code-of-conduct-company-policy
- 4. Introduce your code of conduct to your employees. Be sure to explain why you have chosen to create it, why it is important and how you want it to be used.
As you write your code, in addition to including the key provisions you'd like to highlight, I also recommend including a section called Do the Right Thing Every Time and use it as a space to encourage your employees to think about their decisions and actions and compare them to the code of conduct and the employee handbook. That section could look something like this:
Do the Right Thing Every Time
It's important that we each check our decision-making process to ensure that we are on the right path and to help us to identify situations that may be illegal or unethical. One way to do that is to ask ourselves a few questions:
- 1. If the actions I am considering taking were featured as a headline on the evening news, would I feel proud of that? Would the story be about how I was in legal hot water or how I got fired?
- 2. Do that actions I am taking align with the company's code of conduct or company policies?
- 3. If I had to explain my actions to my boss or at a staff meeting, would others believe that I did the right thing?
- 4. If my child was in this situation and came to me for advice, would I advise them to proceed in this manner?
- 5. Am I being true to myself by doing this? Do I feel pressured to do this?