What Is the Purpose of a Workplace Policy?

Workplace policies are instituted by management to govern employee behavior.
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One way your employer communicates your rights, states your responsibilities and specifies appropriate conduct is the creation of workplace policies, which are often published in an employee handbook. By creating policies that govern your actions and interpersonal relations while conducting business, the organization promotes its needs and protects its interests. It also hopes to provide guidance so all employees will take a consistent approach to business issues. Some policies ensure the organization's image, trade secrets, records and other resources are protected from unauthorized use.

Organization Image

    The official conduct of employees has a significant effect on an organization's reputation. Unfortunately, the employee's unofficial conduct has an equal influence on the public's perception of a firm. Workplace policies can set forth standards of conduct and the disciplinary process used to address unacceptable conduct. Such policies go a long way to make sure that an employee's behavior does not detract from public image or day-to-day performance.

Trade Secrets

    Organizations implement policies to guard against the intentional or unintentional loss of trade secrets. If an employee or contractor steals trade secrets to sell to competitors, policies may be in place to assist law enforcement to identify the thief and recover the data. In addition, should an employee accidentally leak secrets by online or offline means, data encryption and access control policies might limit the damage done by his actions. A policy requiring employees to sign a confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement is also essential to protect proprietary information.

Employee Conduct

    To prevent lawsuits, it's necessary to have workplace policies that stipulate employee responsibilities in different circumstances, describe appropriate conduct and the suitable use of company-supplied technology. A cell phone policy might prohibit organization-related calls while an employee is driving. Such a policy might be used as evidence that the organization is not liable for injuries an employee may cause while driving. Other similar policies serve as evidence that a company tried to prevent employees from harming others while conducting business.

Confidential Records

    The majority of organizations have access to some confidential information regarding customers, employees and other business partners. This information includes addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers and medical records. Each organization is obligated to keep this information private and to prevent the internal or external unauthorized disclosure of the information. Data classification, information security and data retention policies help keep confidential records confidential.

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