Employee code of conduct defines acceptable behavior individuals in an organization should adopt on a day-to-day basis. Find best code of conduct examples here.

Employee Code of Conduct: Best Practices and Examples

An employee code of conduct is a legal document that provides guidelines on acceptable behaviors of individuals in an organization.

The employee code of conduct defines acceptable behavior and social norms that individuals in an organization should adopt on a day-to-day basis. It should reflect a company’s vision, core values and the overall culture of a company.

Download the Employee Code of Conduct sample here.

Employee code of conduct definition

It is a legal document that outlines a set of correct behaviors individuals need to follow towards others and the organization as a whole. The code of conduct is a set of standard social norms, regulations and responsibilities of each individual in the company. It is important it is clear and comprehensive covering all the important areas for your organization. The code of conduct becomes a legal agreement between the company and the employee upon its signage by a new recruit.

Commonly, the business code has to be accepted by new joiners upon recruitment because it helps companies to lay the foundation for the core company values and to maintain its standards. The code of conduct is an essential part of company’s employee handbook.

An Employee Code of Conduct definition

Importance of code of conduct

The main purpose of a code of conduct is to set and maintain a standard for acceptable behavior to all stakeholders in a company. It is a reminder to the employees of what is expected from them. It further highlights that their actions should be always aligned with the ethos of the business. In addition, it should provide understanding of consequences and disciplinary actions if the conduct is broken.

It is often believed to be the same as code of ethics. However, that is not the case. A code of conduct provides guidelines about acceptable behavior, while a code of ethics is a set of principles about a company’s judgement.

As previously mentioned, code of conduct for employees is likely to differ across industries, although it should reflect on;

  • The professional standards and behavior expected from the employees, freelancers, partners and other relevant stakeholders in the organization.
  • Integrity and ethical standards of the company demonstrating the core values of the business which may include integrity itself, transparency or honesty among others. It is imperative the document clearly outlines how to handle any conflict and what is expected if conflict of interests occurs from the stakeholders.
  • Level of professionalism, the employees should adopt in following the reputation and standards of the business. The expected behavior should be aligned to the nature of the profession itself. Thus, the tone of the document will vary across different industries as some require more attention and comprehensiveness of the contents of a code of conduct.
  • Code of conduct also acts as a public statement providing the users and customers of a business with understanding of the ethics of the company, how they data is being handled and other information and standards that might concern the public.
  • The document serves as a protection from fines regarded to ethical misconduct as is proves the effort to prevent illegal behavior and follow best practices in the industry.

Below you can find a video that will help you how to create an ethical culture in your company; Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzicXbnmllc

Code of Conduct Best Practices

When developing a company code of conduct you should bear in mind these best practices;

  • Avoid technical jargon and write the document for the reader.
  • Take time to think about all the details that should be covered in the code of conduct.
  • Make it comprehensive and answer all the questions that might arise.
  • Make it easily accessible by all the employees and other stakeholders.
  • Design the document in line with the company branding and make it easy to follow.

Employee code of conduct best practices

Sections to include

The contents of the document will differ from business to business but you can find the standart sections of conduct that are usually covered below;

  • Company core values and vision
  • Bans on illegal activities: activities including smoking, drinking, foul language
  • Internet usage: Cyber security; corporate email; social media
  • Discrimination and harrassment
  • Confidentiality procedures
  • Dress code
  • Community involvement
  • Gift and entertainment policies
  • Meal and rest break policies
  • Relationships in the workplace
  • Violation of the code of conduct
  • Compliance program

As stated, code of conduct should provide clear and thorough information that leaves no space for confusion. However, in case your employees require further guidance it is essential to provide them with a channel/information, where they can seek more information.

We have created a sample employee code of conduct document which you can download and tailor to your requirements. You can access it here:
Embedded content: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17pDpewYhJNQg8AAlyasi8XA-Tasb9IIIpZUlBEDm22Q/edit?usp=sharing

Some great employee code of conduct examples

Most companies have their code of conduct easily accessible to employees as well as the general public. Find below some of best examples from some of the most well-known companies;

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s code of conduct it stands out by its visual attractiveness, conciseness and outstanding examples of situations. The document covers rules on how to use company assets, how to handle business information, conflict of interest and relationships with external partners. It also provides the reader with additional resources and a clear outline of the company core values that helps to maintain the strong integrity of the business.

Google

Similarly, Google is a great example as it highlights the core company values in its code of conduct. As stated in the document; “it’s built around the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct.” The document has a clear structure and is easy to follow. It outlines the expectations from each of the stakeholders in the company and what the ground rules of the business are.

Facebook

Facebook’s latest version of the code of conduct is accessible to the public on its Investor Relations corporate governance webpage. It is very clearly structured and to-the-point, adopting a slightly more serious tone than the previous two examples. The document considers the key activities and behaviors that are expected of their employees. In addition, the document covers how they expect them to manage difficult situations.

Code of Conduct Examples from Different Industries

Additionally, we put together three examples of employee code of conducts from different industries including media, government body and a legal firm to highlight the variety of contents needed for different types of a business;

Independent

Independent provides its employees and readers with a detailed document that promotes the best practices of the company as well as it provides information on the editorial conduct, guidelines how to prepare a publication , the publication itself including sections such as privacy and social media handling as well as post-publication and dealing with any complaints. Furthermore, the document includes a clear section on public interest clearly linking to the values of the organization.

GOV.UK

Gov.uk published a code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology highlighting key principles to safe development and adoption of new innovations and technologies and ethical and effective data-driven health and care technologies.

Baker McKenzie

As stated on the company’s website; “The Code spells out the policies, legal and ethical obligations and responsibilities in a number of areas. It provides guidance on how to act when specific, clear policies are not available. And it reflects our commitment as a signatory to the UN Global Compact to align our policies and operations with the Compact's principles in the areas of human rights, fair labor, the environment and anti-corruption.” It is exceptionally important for legal firms to cover its policies and behaviors in regard to legal issues and confidential information. It is a great example of an organization where a code of conduct is necessity to protect the body in case an individual fails to follow the standards.


All in all, code of conduct should be considered a necessity for each and every business. It showcases the core values and mission of a company through actionable rules. Thus, it can strengthen company culture in a business and improve engagement levels of the workforce. It brings the mind of the management to peace as they have confidence in the presentation of the organization and the employees, who know what behavior is acceptable and what is not. It should provide employees with clear guidelines and should not leave any grey space for confusion to maintain the desired perception of your business. Therefore, every company should make the time and effort to develop a comprehensive code of conduct. Take inspiration from the useful best practices and employee code of conduct examples we have shared with you.

Dominika Cechova

Dominika Cechova

Content Team

3 minute readPublished on August 7, 2019