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Employee Behavior Standards in the Workplace

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The businesswoman reads documents and speaks by phone. image by Andrey Andreev from

Businesses have codes of conduct that are developed to outline expected, and acceptable, standards of employee behaviors. Codes of conduct function as resources for the regulations related to the inner workings of an organization. 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.

Behavioral Role Modeling

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


While some people may view workplace standards of behaviors as ways for organizations 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 behaviors are acceptable in the workplace, companies decrease the potential for office harassment. Risky behavior 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 organization, people are pledging to abide by expected codes of conduct. One of the most critical and controversial examples of employee behavior 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 behaviors that jeopardize the moral standards of an organization. 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 organization’s internal processes, employees who violate the standards of behavior, 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 behaviors. If a violation is severe enough, probation or termination may be the end result.

  • “Supply and Demand Chain Executive”; Keeping Tabs on Contract Management; Emily Rakowski; August 2008.

Kyra Sheahan has been a writer for various publications since 2008. Her work has been featured in "The Desert Leaf" and "Kentucky Doc Magazine," covering health and wellness, environmental conservatism and DIY crafts. Sheahan holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in finance.