A Code of Conduct is an essential part of any employment relationship. It sets clear, indisputable boundaries of behaviour and expectations, for both the employees and the employer.
To establish a truly sustainable business, you need to not only deliver high standards of service and product to your customers, but you need to also demonstrate behaviours that are consistent with your businesses values and expectations.
Now there is no right or wrong format for a Code of Conduct, but one point should be consistent no matter what your business, or industry. A working code of conduct must be done in consultation with your employees. To thrust a Code upon them will see it doomed to failure before you start.
At the very least, any worthwhile Code of Conduct must address the following elements:
Safety, security and the environment
Fitness for duty
Equity and diversity
Appropriate use of resources, information and electronic systems
Now I know in particular small and medium businesses are time poor. But a robust Code of Conduct can make life a lot easier in the future. Linked intrinsically to Performance Management, a Code of Conduct can assist greatly in reducing conflict in the workplace, and help you work towards creating a utopian "Google" style workplace.
For Pirates of the Caribbean fans, I know Captain Barbosa was fond of calling the Code "more of a guide", and I'm not saying that it will fix all your problems, but an effective Code shouldn't be a guide, but a firm set of rules.
Finally, always remember that the Code applies to everyone, including you!!!
Michael Cosgrove is the Director of Rivercity Consulting a company that provides Human Resources and Industrial Relations services.