Codes of Conduct
Codes of Conduct are an essential part of any compliance program. They make sure that all employees know and understand the rules and obligations of their employment status.
Codes of Conduct are a baseline standard for organisational integrity. Most organisations have them in some form, many taken from ‘model rules’ or legislation in the government sector. But Codes of Conduct need to be living documents that guide people’s behaviour while at work.
Careful thought has to go into a Code to make sure that it speaks to the ‘lived reality’ of employees and managers alike. A Code of Conduct is essential for guiding acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
There are ‘must haves’ such as gifts, benefits and hospitality, conflicts of interest, fraud and corruption but a good Code also includes rules around external relationships, use of resources, secondary employment, public comment and information security.
Benefits of Code of Conduct Training
- all employees are ‘on the same page’ when it comes to interpreting the Code
- all employees understand their obligations under the Code
- managers can apply uniform standards to employee performance
- the training provides an opportunity for employees to discuss and understand the ‘shades of grey’ in the Code
- employees have the opportunity to workshop real-life scenarios and what ethical principles apply
- employees get to understand how to apply the organisation’s Values
The first principle of going to work is that people know the rules, what’s expected of them. If you have a sound Code of Conduct, it’s important that all employees understand that, firstly, it’s there to protect them and, secondly, what’s in the Code and how it applies to them in their job role.
Training around the Code of Conduct needs to be engaging. The annual ‘tick a box’ online training will achieve little on its own. Face-to-face training – whether actual or virtual – for all employees is essential for creating a platform where employees at all levels can engage in a robust discussion of the ‘shades of grey’. Code of Conduct training should also be an essential part of induction training. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. The training needs to be customised to different audiences: senior leaders; middle managers; people managers and supervisors; field staff. All need to get the same message but delivered differently to speak to their context.
Managing Values has assisted many organisations in developing or honing their Code of Conduct, shaping a Code of Ethics within the Code of Conduct or helping with developing a communications strategy for rolling out the Code. We have conducted many ‘all of organisation’ Code of Conduct training with up to 1000 employees. When dealing with different audiences within the same organisation (senior leaders, middle managers, people leaders and supervisors, outdoor staff, admin staff,etc.) it’s impoetant to write the materials so that they speak to the audience.
Creating the resource is the most important part. Researching and writing scenarios and dilemmas based on real cases from the organisation’s ‘lived reality’ is the core of successful Code training. A variety of means can be used to bring these stories to life: interactive dilemmas and case studies; video-based dramas using actors to portray characters from the organisation; animations; gamification; cartoons and comic strips all bring the Code to life.
An alternative is a ‘leader-led’ approach where Managing Values will design a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach to achieve a cascading roll out. The manager or leader will be provided with a suite of resources, including a facilitators guide, to assist in conducting sessions for their direct reports.