Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world.
Governing behavior is not the only role conduct policy needs to play. In "The Big Book of HR," Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem wrote that HR managers need to make sure that the rules accomplish six other goals to ensure stability in the office place. The policies should:
- Establish and define professional standards of conduct that are not acceptable, while stressing that the list is not all-inclusive and that there can be other infractions.
- Provide assistance to employees to change inappropriate behavior.
- Provide managers a means to address issues.
- Provide management responses if behavior does not change.
- Provide a flexible approach (progressive or corrective discipline) process to address conduct.
- Provide a communication mechanism for employees and managers.
So what happens when an employee breaks some of the rules? Discipline should follow, according to Mitchell and Cornelia, but that doesn't mean instant termination. Instead, it should follow these steps:
- Open dialogue/verbal counseling.
- Written counseling/letter of caution.
- Final written notice.