The code of conduct is about how you expect your employees to act and behave at work. It holds them to a set of workplace standards and helps you communicate those standards directly.
This document is a template for you to create your own code of conduct as part of your employee handbook. You can read below or download it as a PDF here.
Note that we have specified in [brackets] areas that you should change yourself, such as inserting your company name or adding more detail.
Note: this template is not a legal document and does not consider local, state-specific, national, or international laws. Each state and locality may have very different laws and policies. So please consult an employment lawyer in your state to approve your final code of conduct and employee handbook.
What's included in this article:
- Dress code
- Company events
- Social media
- Mobile devices
- Relationships with colleagues
- Visitors to the office
- Solicitation or distribution
- Conflicts of interest
This first section is about ensuring that you look and act professionally, whether at the workplace or when at events.
[Note: this section may change significantly depending on your workplace. For example, many workplaces do have a set uniform or supplied safety clothes, so please change this as you might need to.]
At our company, we don't have a uniform, but we do ask that in an office or workplace setting you dress in business-friendly attire. Depending on your role, for example you are often meeting with clients, which could mean formal business wear.
In the end, we expect you to look smart and clean when coming to work. If you aren't coming in workout clothes, sweatpants or pajamas, we aren't going to tell you specifically what to wear. We also acknowledge different hair and grooming styles, clothing, and other items which might be related to religion, background, or different physical abilities.
We may also occasionally have company events, for example social events at a restaurant, or we may host or attend other events. In this case, please keep in mind the standards above. When you're outside of work, you're representing our company with your appearance and your behavior.
Please remember to:
- Show up early or on time
- Adhere to the dress code above or specific to the event
- Be respectful to others
- Don't share offensive ideas or make derogatory comments
- If alcohol is being consumed, please consume in moderation
Ultimately, remember that people will reflect your actions on the company as a whole, so be on your best behavior.
Digital and online
This section concerns the computers, phones, apps, and uses of internet and social media within our company. The goal of this part of the code of conduct is to ensure the secure and productive use of digital devices and platforms.
Your email is one of your main tools at work and so it should be mainly used for work. You may use your company email for personal use, but as a general rule of thumb your personal email should be your first go-to.
Examples of using email for work purposes include sending and receiving emails from team members and customers or clients, or even signing up for and using relevant online services.
Examples of personal use that are accepted could include sending emails to friends and family. The real rule is that if you don't spam, and don't reveal any confidential information outside the company, it should be fine to use your work email for personal reasons.
Email do nots
- Signing up for any unknown, illegal, or suspect looking websites or newsletter services
- Sending any content that is unprofessional or violates one of our workplace policies (link to other article)
- Repeatedly sending the same emails to another colleague
- Sending unapproved content to customers or clients
- Use a strong password (typically containing 10+ characters with a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using any personal information that can be guessed by somebody else).
- Be critical of any email that you find suspicious as they can be phishing attempts that can look to compromise your computer.
- Do seek authorization for emails that are sent out to large lists or to important stakeholders such as customers, investors, or partners
Internet is provided at work - so that you may work. You are of course able to use the connection for personal reasons and interests, as long as they do not interfere with your responsibilities at work.
Please do not:
- Use the internet for high-bandwidth personal activities - such as downloading movies or uploading photos.
- Download illegal or offensive content
- Share confidential information about the company or an employee to people outside the company
- Visit unknown websites because they could be dangerous and give you malware or a virus that could endanger our network
- Commit any illegal actions such as fraud, hacking, phishing, or trafficking illegal goods
Mobile devices and cell phones
Your cell phone is an important item for your day to day work. But don't let it become a tool for distraction.
Please don't do the following:
- Take too many personal calls. Please keep them short and don't disturb your colleagues.
- Play games on your phone
- Constantly text others
- Use your phone while driving
- Record any conversations without the consent of the other party
- Record any confidential information
The goal of our social media policy is to ensure that any use of social media is done responsibly, whether that's using personal social media accounts or acting under the name of our company using social media.
- Use a disclaimer. Please consider adding an "opinions are my own" note to your Twitter bio, for example.
- Be respectful. All the other policies apply to your social media use as well. Do not violate our non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy by posting offensive content.
- Maintain confidentiality. Please do not tweet or share out any company news that hasn't been officially announced. And don't post any internal information or predictions without permission from your manager.
The rules about being respectful and maintaining confidentiality above also apply if you are acting or speaking on behalf of the company. In addition, please:
- Work with your manager [or a member of the marketing team] if you are posting important news
- Ensure that information is factual and accurate
- Respect laws of copyright and trademarks
- Please engage other users on social networks in a professional manner. Even if they comment with distasteful or negative comments, respond kindly and don't delete them. Of course, if you find illegal or offensive content, please report it to the social media site and block the user.
Relationships and people
In general, you are encouraged to have positive and friendly relationships with your colleagues. Of course, socializing with your colleagues is allowed. But this section will outline what kind of relationships and behaviors are not acceptable in the workplace
Romantic relationships with colleagues
Romantic relationships with colleagues are accepted. However, to be specific, this means consensual romantic relationships. A non-consensual relationship is a form of sexual violence and this is treated with a no tolerance policy.
Some key points about what constitutes a consensual relationship:
- Both parties equally consent
- Both people do not report directly to each other and/or work in different areas of the business
- Both individuals act professionally within the workplace and do not have personal discussions at work.
And for non-consensual relationships, either of these may apply:
- Relationships between a manager and a direct report are considered non-consensual due to the power dynamic
- One party is facing an abuse of authority or sexual harassment
[Note: Family businesses will want to change or omit this section]
We run a workplace that hires on the basis of merit. If a hiring manager knows that a close relative - such as a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or cousin (including by marriage) - is applying, then they must recuse themselves from the hiring process. That means they are not allowed to assess any candidates for that specific role and are not allowed to provide inside advice to the candidate in question.
As an employee, you can make a referral of a relative or a close friend to the company. But after that, you must step away from the hiring process. And a further restriction includes that you cannot be the supervisor of the role that is being hired for.
Visitors to the office
We love to have visitors in the office, whether that's for business reasons or to bring your family or friends closer to the work that we do. But there are some rules to ensure security.
The rules for visitors:
- Please always stay near your visitors, especially if they are children
- If your visitors are being loud and disruptive to the work environment, please leave the workplace
- Keep your visitors safe - away from any equipment
- Protect our confidentiality - do not let them near important records
- Do not distract colleagues. If your visitors are looking out for their own self-interests such as seeking donations, please ask that they refrain. For a kid's school drive, of course there are exceptions, but please be respectful of your colleagues, particularly if they decline.
Outside and personal interests
This section is about ensuring that you stay focused on the company and not looking to serve your own interests, for example through solicitation and by avoiding conflicts of interest.
Solicitation and distribution
Solicitation means offering other services or asking for help in the form of money, support, or time for products, services, and groups that are outside of the company. This could also include looking to promote a religion. If you're raising money to do a bike ride for cancer, you can of course ask once politely, but anything that requires a significant investment or a change in beliefs of another person is not prohibited. Work is not the place for that. And distribution means sharing brochures and similar items that are related to these purposes.
Further, as connected to the visitor’s policy above, we don't allow people outside our company to come and solicit.
Examples when solicitation is acceptable:
- You are organizing for a company-sponsored cause or charity event.
- You are asking other employees to take part in legal employment groups such as a trade union.
- You are doing something nice for a colleague, such as a birthday, a promotion, or a positive development in their life.
Ultimately, don't distract or annoy your colleagues, and you should likely be in alignment with this policy.
Conflicts of interest
This is one of the most important parts of the code of conduct and is about respecting the fundamental ethics of our business. A conflict of interest can occur when what serves your personal interest, for example financial gain, and our company interest are not aligned. For example, if you had a large holding in a competitor's company or stood to gain by doing something not in our interest. Sometimes, a conflict of interest will involve a breach of ethics, such as an illegal bribe or the skirting of laws or regulations. You can face legal action for this.
The best way to avoid conflicts of interest is to be upfront and transparent. Please recuse yourself from situations that could find you in conflict and divest yourself from investments that conflict with our own.
Please try hard to spot potential conflicts, do your best to respect our policies, and do what is right for the company. If you believe that you have or that you might unknowingly - or knowingly - put yourself into a conflict of interest, please speak to your manager.
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