26 February 2016

HR - A Professional Conduct Policy for Today's Online World

In today’s modern world of electronic communication, where words and actions spread like wildfire and can have a negative impact on organizations and individuals just as quickly, many businesses have beefed up their professional conduct policy to include activities outside the office and online.

A recent open letter published online by a Yelp customer service agent complaining about not earning a living wage which resulted in her firing, to a Toronto man fired by Hydro One for yelling obscenities at a television reporter, show this type of policy in action.

According to the HR Council, a professional conduct policy should:
  • Be designed with consideration for your organization's values, the clients you work with and the service you provide
  • Be driven by the fact that your organization's reputation and work environment are based on the actions and behaviours of your employees
  • Provide guidelines for acceptable behaviour
  • Emphasize use of good judgment
  • Require compliance with all applicable legislation
  • Provide examples of prohibited actions or behaviour that are regarded as misconduct (and it may specify the consequences of violations), but state that these are examples only and not all inclusive
  • Refer to other related policies (for example: handling of confidential information, harassment, and conflict of interest).

Online activities can be included in the conduct policy or be part of a larger social media policy. However, the social media policy should be referred to in the professional conduct policy.

To help you develop a comprehensive professional conduct or social media policy, it’s no surprise there are a lot of great resources (even with free templates) available online.

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