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Why your company needs a code of conduct

by , 25 February 2013
Swearing isn't an appropriate standard of behaviour in the workplace. So it's surprising that there hasn't been more uproar about the swearing that took place between government ministers during a sitting in the National Assembly last week. But what can you do if you have an employee who constantly uses bad language in your office and refuses to behave appropriately? That's where having a code of conduct for your company comes in...

It may not have made big headlines, but the entire caucus of the Congress of the People and the Democratic Alliance walked out of the National Assembly last week, calling the sitting 'deplorable' and Parliament a 'zoo', reports Eyewitness News.
Things got so out of hand that 'Correctional Services Minister Nosiwiwe Mapisa-Nqakula said they were sworn at by some members of the opposition,' the report continues.
That's unacceptable behaviour – especially considering that this happened in the workplace.
What can you do if one of your employees swears or acts inappropriately in your office?
It probably all depends on your company's code of conduct
Why do you need a code of conduct?
'Your code of conduct must focus on professional standards of behaviour you expect form your employees in your business,' writes employment expert Lizle Louw in The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
But your code can do more than this. It's also a way to ensure your employees are doing the right thing and a way for your clients to know you align yourself with good corporate governance.
The seven core standards of behaviour your company should adhere to
Your company should aspire to the following seven core ethical principles, says Louw:
  1. Fairness
  2. Transparency
  3. Honesty
  4. Non-discrimination
  5. Accountability and responsibility
  6. Respect for human dignity, human rights and social justice
  7. Sustainability
Here's how your code of conduct can help your company do just that.
Six things having a code of conduct can do for your business
According to The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, a good code of conduct will:
  1. Make it clear what behaviour is acceptable and unacceptable conduct or practice.
  2. Guide your business policy by providing a set of corporate ethical standards.
  3. Encourage ethical behaviour of the board, managers and employees at all levels.
  4. Make ethical infringements easy to identify.
  5. Promote awareness of ethical issues.
  6. Help resolve conflicts (such as conflicts of interest).
Bottom line: Essentially, your company's code of conduct establishes the principles that guide all employee behaviour and outline what behaviour – like swearing in the office – won't be accepted. Your code of conduct will also enable you to discipline your employee if their behaviour contravenes with the workplace standards of behaviour stipulated in your code.

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