Employee behavior standards in the workplace

Written by kyra sheahan
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Employee behavior standards in the workplace
office behaviour (The businesswoman reads documents and speaks by phone. image by Andrey Andreev from Fotolia.com)

Businesses have codes of conduct that are developed to outline expected, and acceptable, standards of employee behaviours. Codes of conduct function as resources for the regulations related to the inner workings of an organisation. They are usually provided to employees at the start of employment so that they are aware of what is expected of them from their first day forward.

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Behavioural Role Modeling

It is a manager's responsibility to ensure that employees are aware of the organisation's values, ethics, expectations and what the company views as right or wrong. Behavioural role modelling is a leadership theory that supports the concept that a manager's behaviour will influence his or her employees. According to the theory, consistent examples of ethical behaviour will create an environment of high morale, good principles and respect for the organisation among employees.


While some people may view workplace standards of behaviours as ways for organisations to micromanage their employees, these standards serve many beneficial purposes. For one, codes of conduct protect employees from issues such as harassment. In theory, by outlining what types of relational behaviours are acceptable in the workplace, companies decrease the potential for office harassment. Risky behaviour in the office can have risky impacts. Therefore, having established codes of conduct in the workplace reduces company liability and creates a safer environment for employees.

Employee Ethics

When you work for a company, you play by their rules. In the Aug. 2008 issue of "Supply and Demand Chain Executive," Emily Rakowski explains that by entering into employment with an organisation, people are pledging to abide by expected codes of conduct. One of the most critical and controversial examples of employee behaviour standards in the workplace today has to do with ethics. Businesses require employees to adhere to ethical codes of conduct that foster agreements stating that the employee will not participate in professional or personal behaviours that jeopardise the moral standards of an organisation. This allows companies to hold employees accountable for their actions, and also serves as a guide for employees to understand what the company's ethical expectations are.

Violating Standards of Behavior

Depending on the organisation's internal processes, employees who violate the standards of behaviour, and participate in actions that go against the codes of conduct and ethical codes, might be subject to disciplinary action. Disciplinary action is relative to the severity of the violation. If the violation is minor, sometimes the employee will receive a warning. A common practice in businesses today is to have clauses in their codes of conduct that state there is a zero tolerance policy for unethical, dishonest and illegal behaviours. If a violation is severe enough, probation or termination may be the end result.

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