How to write a perfect Code of Conduct for Employees?

write code of conduct
6 minutes read
A strong code of conduct is essential for any organization looking to establish positive and ethical work culture. After all, you expect your employees to behave in a specific manner and meet a particular standard.

An employee code of conduct mainly outlines a set of correct behavior and social norms that should be followed in a company. It must set out the expectations and standards employees must uphold.

Creating this legal document isn’t a matter of listing rules and regulations. It requires a thorough understanding of the company, including its mission, values, and culture that underpin it.

Are you planning to create a thoughtful copy of the code of conduct for your organization? Here, we’ll discuss a comprehensive overview of how to draft this legal document that reflects your core business values and promotes professional behavior.

What is the Purpose of the Code of Conduct?

A robust code of conduct is the best approach to fostering a positive environment within a company. It ensures that everybody in your company knows what’s expected of them.

These documented guidelines are more than just a formality and offer many benefits to the organization. Without further ado, let’s quickly take an overview of the benefits of this legal document.

Protecting the company’s interests

Since the code of conduct demonstrates organizational principles and values, it automatically protects the company’s interests. This document highlights prohibited behavior to develop a healthy work environment.

Ensuring a safe work environment

These document guidelines help organizations to establish a positive workplace culture by setting out the core business values. It promotes a safe and inclusive working environment while creating a sense of belonging among employees.

Encouraging ethical behavior

A well-thought code of conduct outlines employees’ accepted behavior and actions, thus preventing misconduct and unethical practices. It sets out the ethical standards employees must adhere to while making them aware of what’s accepted and what’s not to avoid legal violations.

Maintaining the company’s reputation

A robust code of conduct can help protect the company’s reputation by demonstrating its commitment to ethical practices. Moreover, if framed appropriately, it can help mitigate the risk of unethical employee behavior. Setting clear guidelines prevents legal and regulatory violations, thus helping protect the reputational damage.

The 4 major elements of a Code of Conduct

Those days are a matter of the past when a code of conduct used to be written with legalistic language and corporate jargon. The guidelines have now been replaced with value-based principles that help employees make ethical decisions.

If you plan to update or completely overhaul your organization’s code of conduct, keep these five essential elements in mind. We assure these factors must help you create a compelling and engaging copy.

1. Legal compliance

Whatever guidelines you will add to your company’s code of conduct, they must follow all applicable laws. It would help if you outlined all legal and ethical standards employees must follow to avoid violations and regulatory fines. Remember to add the rule of confidentiality when drafting this legal document to protect your company’s policy.

2. Mission Statement and Values

The mission statement and values are the second important element to add to your employee code of conduct. Ensure this legal document stems from and supports your company’s underlying values. Include a statement of values that your organization expects your employees to follow.

3. Workplace Policies

No code of conduct is completed without providing workplace policies. Let the employee understand what behavior you expect from them within the organization. State the behavioral expectations they must adhere to create a positive work environment.

Some common examples of workplace policies include anti-harassment, financial integrity, data privacy, client and business partner code of conduct, and conflict of interest.

4. Disciplinary Actions

Your organizational code of conduct must include a section on disciplinary actions to tell employees how to report violations or raise their concerns. You should also add a statement on actions for those who violate the code of conduct policies.

Make it Simple Yet powerful – Lastly, make your company’s code of conduct simple and easy to follow. Refrain from including anything out-of-the-blue or weird your employees cannot adhere to. Provide clear guidelines for behavior in various situations and keep them up-to-date with legal and regulatory requirements. 

Code of Conduct  in 5 steps

Now comes a significant question – How do you write an employee code of conduct? Developing this legal document can help establish clear expectations; hence, it should contain everything you want from employees.

Here are vital steps to follow when rolling this document out for your employees.

1. Underline what should be included.

The code of conduct must cover some standard sections, including

    • Your company’s core values
    • Compliance with laws
    • Workplace policies
    • Disciplinary actions
    • Signature pages

    But these are just the basics. In addition to them, your code of conduct might need to dig deeper into valuable things for your organization.

    Remember that the code of conduct varies from one company to another. Hence, align the document with your organization’s core values and hash out a well-rounded and thoughtful document.

    2. Create a Rough Draft

    Now that you have sketched the outline, it’s time to fill in the blanks and create a rough document. Avoid jumping into the final copy in the very beginning. Take an extra effort to create a rough draft and get it reviewed by other members.

    Also, keep in mind that your code of conduct should answer questions and not raise them. Moreover, the structure of this document matters. Never jump to disciplinary actions before spelling out expectations. Ensure that your code of conduct must flow logically and intuitively.

    A general structure should begin with the mission and values of the organization and then move to expectations and policies.

    3. Collaborate with stakeholders

    The second important step is to gather opinions and suggestions from employees and other leaders when drafting the final copy. It’s always wise to get a few more sets of eyes on the outline to collect input on the values that should reflect in the code of conduct.

    Ask them to review the rough draft; the focus should be less on typos and grammatical errors and more on the document’s content. Their opinions will be helpful and might prevent several queries and confusion down the line.

    4. Ensure clarity and accessibility

    The clearer you can make the code of conduct, the better. Ensure you add enough details with each rule so that employees know your expectations. Examples must help illustrate what’s acceptable and what’s not.

    Avoid jargon and be mindful of the industry lingo. Focus on stating things as plainly as possible. Draft a clear and concise code of conduct that outlines the expected standards of behavior. The code should be easy to understand and should include specific examples.

    5. Communicate the code effectively

    Once you have incorporated revisions in the draft, it’s time to deliver the final copy to your employees. The final document should include a place employees can sign to agree to abide by these rules.

    Communicate the guidelines to all individuals within the organization and provide necessary training on the expected behavior. Reinforce the importance of the code of conduct and the consequence of non-compliance.

    How to Implement the Code of Conduct

    Developing a strong code of conduct is half the battle won, as you must implement these guidelines for a complete victory. Ensuring that employees are taking this document seriously is crucial. Here are some steps to effectively implement a code of conduct.

    Training employees

    First, you should provide practical training to all individuals within the organization on the expected standards of behavior outlined in the document. This training should include specific examples of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Besides, the training also includes how to report a violation of these norms and the consequences of not following the guidelines.

    Enforcing the code

    Secondly, you must enforce the standards and rules mentioned in the document by addressing violations promptly and fairly. Giving chances and overlooking violations will take your organization nowhere. Hence, do whatever it takes to enforce the code. It could be the termination of employment or contract, based on the severity of the violation.

    Review and update the code regularly

    Finally, you must review and update the code of conduct to ensure that it remains relevant. It could be done half-yearly or annually, or as required. Be thoughtful when editing the document and consider including the key stakeholders in the review process.


    The employee code of conduct is way more than a stuffy rulebook. It is a living document that shapes the culture and norms of your entire organization, and it’s well worth having.

    However, developing this legal copy can be overwhelming, as there are many areas to cover. It’s suggested to use clear, concise, but firm language to avoid confusion for its readers.

    Do not make the code too restrictive, and be mindful that the document provides enough directions. Add realistic terms and conditions and ensure to keep every department of your organization into concern when creating a document.

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