How to Clearly Outline Appropriate Workplace Behavior in Your Handbook

Posted on September 4, 2018 by Rick Rossignol

Smiling coworkers

Your employee handbook serves as both a legal and foundational tool for your business. It protects you from risks in the workplace, but also clearly communicates your company values and expectations. When it comes to appropriate workplace behavior, how do you effectively address the topic to keep your employees informed? RTR Consulting reviews the key elements in outlining this topic in your employee handbook.

Including the Proper Sections

The purpose of developing your employee Code of Conduct is to set expectations and guidelines for employees’ behaviors toward one another as well as legally protect your business. There are several aspects to consider, including how management and supervisory members will interact. How do you envision the business hierarchy working? What do your employees need to know about the levels of organization?

Part of an employee’ contract with an employer is to follow the Code of Conduct and expectations set forth by the business. You should include policies regarding tardiness, sick time, absenteeism, and creating open communication among employees and supervisors. Transparency is a valuable asset in crafting an employee handbook. What are the consequences if an employee’s workplace behavior does not match the handbook and company’s expectations outlined therein? Is there a potential for conflicts of interest that need to be addressed?

Also include sections that protect your company property. Consider the misuse of computers and technology in the workplace. How are employees expected to use the business’s work equipment when they show up for their shift? Do you have incorporeal property like trademarks? These should be outlined in your handbook as well.

Outline dress code, personal appearance, job duties within the workplace and community, and how employees are expected to interact with each other and customers, if applicable. The more clarity you provide, the more protection your business has.

Setting the Right Tone

An employee handbook is about much more than covering your business legally. It is a place to set the tone for your company’s work environment and share a piece of your story. What is your company culture like? What are your values? Think of some buzz words you want to include, such as integrity, sincerity, professional, or collaborative.

You want your voice to be reflected in your employee handbook while still remaining professional and creating healthy work boundaries amongst employees. Though you can try to avoid situations where inappropriate work behavior becomes an issue, instances will still happen. Setting the right tone can help you prepare for them by creating a mutual respect between employee and employer.

Creating a Foundation for Success

Set your new hires up for success with the proper foundation. You do not want to give them the wrong idea or a bad first impression. Rather, you want your employee handbook to reflect an encouraging work environment that appreciates their contribution to the company. How is your business’s success built? What are the qualities you are looking for in your employees? Make sure these are echoed in your employee handbook and maintained in the office.

Protecting Your Business

Lawsuits are always a possibility in the workplace, but the cost and severity can easily be addressed with the right actions. Be prepared before they happen, use the proper words to protect yourself from legal recourse, and lessen risk by satisfying state legal requirements. Make protecting your business and employees a top priority, so a lawsuit does not put you out of business.

Do you need help creating an employee handbook that meets California legal requirements and protects your business? RTR Consulting has more than 20 years devoted to developing effective and efficient Human Resources policies, procedures, and best practices for small to medium-sized businesses. Contact us today to learn more.

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