What Is a Code of Conduct? Importance and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A code of conduct is essential in a workplace because it gives employees a definitive guide on how they should work and act while performing their job. Some companies expect their employees to follow a code with many requirements, while others keep it simple. Having knowledge of the rules, policies and expectation helps a candidate understand if they can work in a particular company and helps an existing employee excel at work. In this article, we provide a comprehensive answer to “what is a code of conduct” and explore what it does, its importance, different types and five examples.

What is a code of conduct in the workplace?

A code of conduct is a collection or set of principles, rules and policies about how employees can and cannot behave during working hours. It outlines the internal guidelines for all employees and works as an external statement for corporate values and commitment. In an office setting, a code of conduct can support decision making as it gives a detailed structure to follow. Also, it helps you prepare for any ethical dilemma that you face in your job.

Related: How To Develop a Code of Professional Ethics (With Examples)

What does a code of conduct do?

A quality code of conduct can foster employee retention and loyalty. When you feel engaged with the company's culture and share the same values, you will feel committed. Also, the code serves as a framework for making ethical business decisions. It serves as a communication tool for employees, customers and stakeholders about what a company truly values. Furthermore, it informs a candidate seeking a job about how a particular company is likely to treat them upon joining.

Why is a code of conduct important?

A code of conduct is important in the workplace because it serves as a handbook on how employees act while performing their everyday tasks. It is important because of the following reasons:

Outlines a company's principles and values

When a company displays their code of conduct on their website, it helps potential job candidates and clients learn more about its vision, principles and values. Based on this, an employee can decide whether they share the same values and fit into its culture.

Provides guidelines of employee behaviour

Having a code of conduct gives you a structure to follow from the moment you join a new company. It reduces the instances of problems coming up because you will always follow the most appropriate behaviour. Also, a code clearly outlines the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, which helps in strengthening relationships with your colleagues.

Accelerates career growth

When you know what to do and what to avoid, problems and dilemmas rarely occur at work. You may not realise that asking other employees to punch for you or sharing business information with outsiders is an unfair practice. But with a code of conduct, you avoid such practices. This can help accelerate your career growth because you utilise your energy in productive activities.

Increases employee morale

When every employee respects each other, it builds long-lasting relationships and boosts the entire team's morale. Employees prefer working in an organisation that boosts morale because they feel respected and valued. It also helps bring out your full potential and you work towards achieving a common business goal.

Ensures compliance with the legal system

A code addresses issues like workplace discrimination and harassment. It ensures that you adhere to the company's policies and ensure compliance with the central and state legal system. When you act within the law, it improves your company's credibility and helps in building its brand.

Produces a compliant culture

Candidates prefer to work in companies with a robust and in-depth code of conduct because it helps them understand the process for solving work-related problems. Also, these rules make it a lot easier to report a violation of your company's policies. With a streamlined process in place, it becomes easier to ensure compliance.

Related: What Is Organisational Culture?

Types of code of conduct

An employer may choose to include different types of codes of conduct in their employee handbook. Here are some important ones:

  • Company's value

  • Conflict of interest

  • Financial integrity and responsibility

  • Confidential information

  • Harassment and discrimination

  • Dress code

  • Leave policy

  • Break-time policy

  • Social media policy

  • Reporting misconduct

  • Illegal activity

  • Internet usage policy

  • Use of technology

  • Absenteeism

  • Plagiarism

  • Environmental concerns

What is an example of a code of conduct?

An example of a code of conduct is a policy regarding the use of technology in the workplace. An organisation may decide to have a detailed policy that outlines every aspect of using technology while at work. While some companies may allow mobile, internet and social media usage throughout office hours, others may restrict technology usage to only break-time.

Examples of code of conduct

When employers create a code of conduct, they always keep their current and future employees in mind. A policy catered towards your well-being can help you feel motivated, equally treated and respected at the workplace. Knowing about a few examples of these rules and policies can help you prepare in advance for a new job. Here are a few examples:

Confidential information

The following is an example of how you should handle your company's confidential information:

Example: “During employment at Handmade Burgers Private Limited, you will gain knowledge and come across non-public information and you should not disclose it to an outsider. To disclose such confidential information, always use a non-disclosure agreement after prior approval from the management. Confidential information includes recipes, formula, supplier information, marketing plans and existing and future product information. Even within the company, this information is accessible only to employees who require it to conduct business operations. In case you leave the company, you have to submit the company's material and property.”

Internet usage policy

To understand and prevent misuse of the internet at work, you should know the internet usage policy:

Example: “This policy applies to all employees who have access to a computer and requires internet to perform their everyday work. You have to use the company-provided internet and other devices only for completing your assigned duties and supporting the objectives of Rollcall Designer Private Limited. Downloading of music, software, films and other digital goods is prohibited.

Without prior approval, employees cannot download and install software on a company's computer. Also, an employee should not introduce malware software to the company's network or bypass the web filters to access blocked sites. Non-adherence to the internet usage policy can cause strict disciplinary actions.”

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest policy outlines the procedure when a conflict exists between an employee and their organisation:

Example: “Conflict of interest may apply when your close family members have a business, financial or personal relationships with current or former suppliers, regulators, customers or other third parties. An employee working with Jade International cannot advance their interests with or against the company's interest. Acting in such manner is unacceptable and employees who act outside of Jade International's interest may have to face strict disciplinary actions.”

Paid time off (PTO) policy

A paid time off policy tells you how much paid time you can take off in a year. It details how to take paid time off and whether any unused leaves carry forward to the following year. Here is an example of paid time off policy:

Example: “You are eligible to receive paid time off if you are a full-time employee of Maverick and Son's Private Limited. Contractors, interns, seasonal and part-time employees are not eligible for the PTO. According to the National and Festival Holidays Act, an employee will receive 15 days per calendar year of holidays. Also, the company provides 15 vacation leaves, eight casual leaves and ten sick leaves per calendar year to all eligible employees. You can carry over any unused vacation leaves up to 45 days while the casual and sick leaves with lapse at the end of the calendar year.”

Social media policy

Understanding this code of conduct will help you know which information about your company you can share on social media platforms:

Example: “This social media policy applies to all full-time employees, contractors, interns, seasonal and part-time employees of Pizza Corner. Employees are responsible for upholding the company's core value, brand and image on social media. Subsequently, Pizza Corner expects all its employees to remain polite and professional when talking with customers, suppliers, shareholders or stakeholders on social media. Also, to ensure optimal productivity, the company allows its employees to use their personal social media account for not over 30 minutes per day. Failure to adhere to the social media policy will cause strict disciplinary actions."

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