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Writing a new code of conduct from the ground up

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Rey Elbo

In The Workplace

We would like to establish an employee disciplinary policy for our new restaurant. We are growing fast with employees being hired left and right. The trouble is that, employee discipline issues have also increased. It ranges from habitual absences and tardiness to estafa and theft. Now, we have learned our lesson for starting out without any employee policy. Anyway, how do we start from scratch? — Needing Guidance.

A news reporter was interviewing an African safari guide. He asked: “Is it true that wild animals won’t harm you if you carry a torch?” The guide replied: “That depends on how fast you carry it.”

Sometimes, people in their desire to expand and grow their businesses often ignore the most basic things, including those that relate to people management. Many of them believe that management as the “torch bearer” has the absolute prerogative to hire and fire, which is true up to a certain extent, until they realize later on that forgetting the systems and procedures could result in so many employee issues resulting in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in losses.

Of course, if you have no recourse but to delay the formulation of a code of conduct, you can always refer to the provisions of the Labor Code, starting from Article 278 on post-employment. However, such a provision is too broad and needs support from other laws, like the criminal provisions governing theft, among other offenses.

This reason alone should prod you to “run as fast as you can with the torch” or the code of conduct. Don’t delay the creation of such a policy as it is intended to cover many specific offenses, including absenteeism, tardiness up to serious offenses like theft. Also, the code of conduct provides graduated penalties that include warnings, suspensions and dismissal.

If your code of conduct includes the applicable penalties, it will be easy for management to apply them when the time comes. There should be no guess work or discretion to do. Also, you protect your management from unfair criticism that it is not objective. The following are some pointers on how to create the code of conduct and deal with the pesky problem of employee discipline:




One, list down the most common employee violations. Do a quick survey among department heads and note down the recurring issues. Without waiting for the completion of the code of conduct, your management may issue a circular defining all offenses in clear, unequivocal terms. Don’t give the employees an excuse of not understanding the policy.

Publish all policies on your intranet, if not in the bulletin boards where even old policies and penalties can be readily accessed by employees. This is a temporary solution that should be discontinued the moment that you complete the code of conduct.

Two, benchmark on the best practices in your industry. Take the initiative to get acquainted with active practitioners from human resource departments of other companies. Start by looking at the policies and practices of small companies as you may encounter difficulties in getting ideas from major players, unless you can find ways of getting hold of an actual, printed policy manual.

Start small with other HR managers from other companies, but be ready to reciprocate as soon as circumstances warrant it. Benchmarking is always a two-way street. It is not meant to benefit only the one asking favor. The best approach is to create conditions where other HR managers would be constrained to help you because of your generosity in the past. If you can and subject to the approval of your management, organize or be a part of an industry association where monthly meetings and seminars are organized for purposes of getting new ideas from other similarly-situated establishments.

Three, be original with the provisions of your code of conduct. It’s too tempting, but just the same, don’t commit the mistake of plagiarizing the policy and procedures of other companies in your industry or elsewhere. Also, the Internet offers an ocean of information on how to create employee policies. Don’t copy-and-paste from what you can get from other companies. Chances are, they’ve been there for quite some time and may have been copied thousands of times.

There are many free software programs that detect plagiarism. If it was easy to copy, it is also easy for you to be discovered by the original authors. If they do, the result could be disastrous for your career and your organization. This is not to mention that their policies may not apply to your business.

Last, hire an external management consultant to do the job. Researching and writing a code of conduct for your organization is too tedious, time-consuming and stressful. Convince your top management to approve a budget for it, rather than you taking the time to do it while neglecting your day-to-day tasks.

If you’re successful and are granted a budget, ensure that your consultant guarantees that the draft policy is free from any plagiarism and other such concerns, all provisions are compliant with labor laws and social legislation, and that it has a clear, step-by-step procedure on how to observe due process, including how to write the Notice to Explain and other forms.

ELBONOMICS: You can’t go wrong if you practice fairness, not favoritism.

 

Send feedback or workplace questions to elbonomics@gmail.com or via https://reyelbo.consulting.

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