Responding to employee behaviors as they occur can lead to frustration, charges of favoritism and even lawsuits. If you don’t have a company manual, it’s a good idea to lay out your internal policies and procedures in writing and communicate them to your workers. Starting with a variety of common corporate policies, you can create an effective guide for making sure your office, restaurant or shop is a positive place for people to work.


Let your employees know your official working hours, how to report tardiness or absenteeism and the penalties for breach of your policies. Include the policies for earning and requesting personal time off. Check with an employment expert to make sure your policies don’t violate any state or federal labor laws.

Dress Code

The less you talk about your dress code, the more employees try to push the limits. Dress codes help you maintain a professional image in front of customers, help keep workers safe and prevent the wearing of slogans or other displays that might cause conflict among workers. Meet with your employees to get their thoughts before you set your dress code. You might find that policies you are considering put a financial strain on your workers or impede their productivity.


Everyone likes a good joke, but some can be insensitive and even get you in legal trouble. Set rules for personal interaction, including dating, joking, gossip, threats and other interpersonal behaviors. Remind employees that when they are off-site but with other workers in even borderline professional settings -- such as at lunch during the workday, at a conference or sending an email after hours using a work address -- your workplace policies apply. Include policies about the use of alcohol and other substances.

With more people creating blogs, personal websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and posting messages in chat rooms and on other websites, you’ll need to set policies for public behavior that can affect your business. If you run a vegan restaurant, for example, and your head chef starts a barbecue blog under his real name, this can drive your customers away. This can be especially tricky, so work with an attorney to draft this section of your policy guide.

Asset Use

Be clear about how and when your employees can use computers, company cars, office supplies, phones and copy machines, stationery and other assets. If you let one employee take home an item for personal use, you will most likely need to extend that policy to all of your workers or risk charges of favoritism and decreased morale. Many employees waste hours each day surfing the net and sending personal emails. Limit employees’ use of your computers to work only. Assets extend to intellectual property, and your employees should be told what processes, recipes, formulas, trademarks, copyrights and other work-related intellectual assets they may not use or discuss outside your workplace. This would include not letting others log into your company server or examine company documents.