There are certain workplace conduct rules and regulations that should be followed no matter the political climate or the area in which the work site is located. While Federal laws cover many of the acceptable conduct activities allowed in the workplace, most conflicts could be avoided by following basic common sense.
When employees are considerate of their fellow workers, they rarely conflict with Federal laws or company policies. The Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” can be used as a guide to acceptable behavior in the workplace. Respect the space of fellow employees and keep personal opinions that don’t have anything to do with work to yourself. A working environment built on mutual respect can provide a pleasant work experience for everyone.
Employees are hired for their skills and talents and their ability to perform their duties competently. Drugs and alcohol impair an individual’s abilities. The use of drugs on the job is illegal and written into company manuals. Federal law allows employers to seek drug testing with no warning when the practice is clearly written in the company policy manual and employees waive their rights upon employment. Most company policy manuals forbid intoxication in the workplace, which is a rule that adheres to common sense principles as well.
Clichés often are ubiquitous because in many cases they are true. “Honesty is the best policy” is another of those sayings that are spelled out in the handbook given to most new employees in business and should be the mantra of every working person. Dishonesty on job applications is often discovered, causing embarrassment and termination. Direct stealing of goods or money from an employer can lead to imprisonment and loss of valuable licenses and certifications. Wasting time, making personal calls on company time and taking items such as office supplies is illegal and should be avoided.
Sexual harassment and religious discrimination are expressly forbidden under Federal law in all workplaces. Creating an environment that is unsafe, hostile or uncomfortable for an employee, whether it is overt or subtle, is an important regulation is also an important rule to remember. Sexual harassment includes comments as well as inappropriate pictures or posters hung in plain view. Employees cannot be ridiculed or discriminated against because of their religious beliefs either.
Stalking as a behavior is also strictly forbidden. Stalking refers to repeated harassing or threatening behavior by an individual, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home, office, or place of business, making harassing phone calls, or even leaving unwanted messages (including written or electronic).
Basic Workplace Rules
- Follow Reporting Structure: One of the most important things to consider at work is the reporting structure; violating the accepted practices can create ill-will with your supervisors and mark you as unprofessional. When you start a job, ask about the chain of command and commit it to memory. During the course of your employment, follow the hierarchy when reporting a problem or bringing up a new idea, starting with your immediate supervisor and moving up. Establish a paper trail for a record of your good faith efforts.
- Be Respectful: No matter which job you hold in a company, it’s important to be respectful of clients, vendors and coworkers. Show respect for religious beliefs, lifestyle choices, personal property and work styles. Communicate openly and politely, and avoid getting into emotionally driven confrontations. In any given office or situation, respectful behavior helps establish a professional reputation.
- Leave Personal problems at Home: All employees have their own personal viewpoints and problems. When you arrive at work, leave your issues at the door so they do not affect your professional life. Avoid discussing in detail sensitive topics like politics, relationship issues or financial woes.
- Minimize Personal Communications: With the quick availability of texting, cell phone calls and social media, it can be tempting to spend a disproportionate amount of time participating in personal communication during work hours. Limit your use of these technologies to avoid the perception that you waste company time or do not get enough work done.
- Follow Company Policies: In most businesses, company policies exist for a reason, from safety to legal protection. Get to know your company policy and make every effort to follow it. If a situation arises that requires you to break policy, speak to a supervisor and ask for suggestions or alternate paths of action.