Expectations & Workplace Practices
General Policies & Procedures
The cooperative has the right and responsibility to develop and implement policies, rules, regulations, and procedures, which it considers necessary for safe, effective, and efficient operations. Current policies and rules are referenced throughout this Handbook and linked where available.
Appearance & Grooming
When our members see you, first impressions can be everything; your attitude is reflected in your appearance. When you look good, you feel good.
While HomeWorks is a professional business, we dress in business casual wear for day to day activities; we don't expect you to come to work in a suit. However, if you are presenting to the Board or to an organization in the community, you should dress appropriately.
Here are a few more tips to help you make good choices:
- Hair should be neat and clean; extreme styles are not professional.
- Facial hair should be well groomed.
- Pay attention to your personal hygiene and always present an odor-free environment. This also applies to heavy fragrances. Please be respectful of your co-workers’ sensitivities.
- Clothing should be worn and fit in such a manner that it does not expose the abdomen, chest or upper legs and buttocks area. Tank-tops and tank-dresses are permissible with a jacket or sweater.
- Absolutely no undergarments should be visible.
- Ear gauges and piercings of the nose area, lip and eyebrows should be removed during work.
- Shorts, vacation-casual capris, leggings, yoga pants, sweat pants or pajama pants.
- Logos with religious, controversial or offensive content.
- Faded or discolored, frayed, with holes, rips, stains, or dirt on it.
- Tennis or beach shoes, slippers or crocs, flip-flops or any loose-fitting sandals without a back or with a strap between the toes (particularly those that make an annoying noise).
When in doubt, talk to your supervisor before wearing the item in question.
Here are some examples of acceptable and unacceptable items, based on the list above:
There are a few jobs or special occasions when jeans or different footwear may be appropriate. This will be determined by each supervisor.
Attendance & Punctuality
Be here when you're scheduled to be; be at your work site and ready at your scheduled time, not just on the premises. Your teammates rely on you to be here to share the workload.
In general, you get a one-hour unpaid lunch break and two 15-minute paid breaks. How you use this time is between you, your supervisor and your work team.
Nursing mothers will be provided break time as needed to express breast milk. HomeWorks provides a designated space that meets the requirements set forth under applicable federal law. Ask your supervisor or Human Resources for that location.
Spend our money like you'd spend your own. We don't believe in establishing set spending limits because every situation is different. Instead we trust you to use good judgment (see the Employee Travel Requests and Expense Reimbursement Policy). If you're unsure about whether to expense something or not, ask yourself if you would be comfortable explaining that expense to the Board of Directors. Make sure that the cost is reasonable, directly related to HomeWorks business, and supported by appropriate documentation.
Meals. Always record the business purpose, full names and titles of the people who attended, as well as the reason for the dinner.
Transportation and lodging. We ask that you use our administrative staff to make air travel and lodging arrangements for you when traveling on business. When air travel is necessary we ask that you provide at least a two week notice (if possible) so we can obtain reasonable airfare rates. (Employee Travel Request Form, an Excel worksheet)
Mileage. If you agree to drive your personal vehicle for business purposes, and have your supervisor's approval, we will reimburse you the IRS rate for mileage. Again, use good judgment; if you take a side trip for personal reasons those miles should not be included in the mileage submitted for reimbursement.
Other travel related expenses. Items eligible for reimbursement under this category may include parking, cab fares, tips, etc.
If you’re uncertain about whether you should spend money or submit an expense for reimbursement, check with your supervisor. Supervisors are responsible for all money spent and expenses incurred by their team members.
Company vehicles. HomeWorks has a limited number of pool vehicles available for employees to use for business purposes. You may reserve one, if available, through the company calendar; see the IT department for instructions. If a pool vehicle is not available for your scheduled travel, talk to your supervisor about your options.
Cooperative credit card. Some employees may be assigned a HomeWorks credit card for use in making purchases off-site. Here is the policy regarding use of, and accounting for, the card. If you have further questions, talk to your supervisor or the Accounting Department.
Communications (Electronic and other) and Internet Use
General. It's important to you, your fellow employees, and our member-customers that you stay up to date on HomeWorks programs and events. We will use a variety of means to communicate with you, including (but not limited to) the Flash newsletter, Country Lines magazine, emails and other media.
From time to time, your friends and family may have questions about what's going on at HomeWorks and you may not always know what to say. A good rule of thumb is if it's been communicated in the Flash or Country Lines, it's okay to share. If you're not sure, ask your supervisor, the manager of communications, or any manager, for more specific situations.
If we’ve sent out an email telling you about some ideas or plans, and we said that information was preliminary or confidential, then please don’t share it with anyone outside of HomeWorks. Do discuss it amongst yourselves or with your supervisor, and let us know what questions or suggestions you have.
Media. If someone such as the media calls to ask about something you believe is not general knowledge, about outages, a member issue, or an internal event, please route the call to the manager of communications or the general manager. If neither are available, refer the call to your supervisor or another manager.
Electronic Communications. Computers, mobile phones, emails, and the internet have redefined how we do business today. We have constant access to each other and to a world of information. This can make us more productive, but it can also sometimes get in the way of doing our jobs. Please use your judgment. Ask yourself these questions: Is it appropriate? Is it ethical? Is it professional?
Follow the guidelines below when using company-provided electronic communications tools and internet. Remember, these tools are routinely monitored; you should have no expectation of privacy when using them.
- Send, accept, or store communications that are defamatory, discriminatory, harassing or pornographic
- Use disparaging, abusive, profane or offensive language
- Create, view or display materials that might adversely or negatively reflect upon HomeWorks, or be contrary to the co-op’s best interests
- Engage in any illegal activities, including piracy, cracking, extortion, blackmail, or copyright infringement
- Access any computers and company-provided equipment, such as mobile phones and laptops, without authorization
- Copy, retrieve, modify or forward copyrighted materials, except with permission or as a single copy for reference only
- Use HomeWorks systems in a way that disrupts their use by others
- Send or receive files not related to work
- Open suspicious e-mails, pop-ups or downloads
Contact the IT Department with any questions or concerns. (See Board Policy 313)
Social networking outlets (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube), personal blogs and chat rooms are popular outlets for expressing ourselves. We respect your right to use these outlets.
We trust you to use your best judgment and common sense when it comes to posting things about HomeWorks, its members and employees. Keep in mind, HomeWorks may monitor content.
- Be professional, truthful, and accurate, and protect confidential information if discussing HomeWorks
- Express only your personal opinions. Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for HomeWorks
- Speak for yourself, but know that your actions may be taken to represent the cooperative. On social networks where you identify yourself as a HomeWorks employee, be mindful that the content posted will be visible to co-workers, members, and others. Make sure the information posted is the most professional reflection of your opinions and beliefs
- Post financial, confidential, sensitive or proprietary information about HomeWorks or its members, employees or applicants
- Post obscenities, slurs or personal attacks that can damage the reputation of HomeWorks or its members, employees or applicants
- Post pictures of fellow employees or members without their consent
Confidentiality of Corporate Information
Information about the Cooperative, its employees or customers is considered confidential and may not be given out or used in any way except in the course of Cooperative business.
Any requests for such information should be directed to your supervisor or the General Manager. Breach of this rule may result in discharge from the Cooperative. (See Board Policy 117)
Conflict of Interest
Avoid putting yourself in a situation that presents potential or perceived personal gain, including financial interest in a contract. If you are unsure if a situation presents a conflict of interest, contact your supervisor or Human Resources department. (See Board Policy 209)
If a potential conflict of interest arises, or if you have reasonable cause to believe that an actual or potential conflict of interest exists elsewhere at HomeWorks, you must disclose the conflict to your supervisor and the general manager.
Firearms and Weapons
You cannot carry concealed weapons in the course of your duties, and firearms and ammunition are banned from all HomeWorks facilities and vehicles. Personal weapons and ammunitions entering our parking areas must be unloaded, cased, and secured in your personal vehicle. (See Board Policy 207)
At HomeWorks, we believe that decisions about terms and conditions of employment, such as performance, compensation and promotion, should be based on considerations of merit, without concern for favoritism or the appearance of favoritism. The HomeWorks family can include your own family members, as long as one employee doesn't report (directly or indirectly) to a Relative.
- Relative - a family member or significant other of a HomeWorks director or employee
- Close Relative - spouse/former spouse/partner, child, parent, sibling (including step, half and in-law)
- Significant Other - an individual with whom someone has an established romantic or sexual relationship
We encourage you to grow with us and we prefer to promote employees from within. When a position is advertised, it will also be posted internally. If you know somebody who would be a good fit, feel free to pass the information along to the supervisor who has posted the position.
Management reserves the right to restructure the workforce without posting vacancies if it is in the best interest of the cooperative.
Open Door Policy
HomeWorks has an open door policy and actively promotes communication as a means of working together cooperatively. If you have a suggestion for improving any phase of our operation, or if you have a problem or complaint, you should be able to discuss your concerns with your supervisor or department manager. We have both a Grievance Procedure and a Whistleblower Policy in place to help you; see It's The Law to learn more.
Please update us immediately with any changes to your name, address, marital or tax status, emergency contacts or other important information. When these changes occur, be sure to notify Human Resources as soon as possible.
Personnel records are stored electronically and are the property of HomeWorks. You may review your file in the presence of Human Resources or your supervisor, by making an appointment to do so. However, you may not remove any material from your file.
All personnel records are confidential. We do not release any information outside of HomeWorks without your authorization, unless we are required by law to do so.
HomeWorks collects and retains your personal information in order to process certain functions like benefits and payroll. We value your privacy and are committed to protecting your personal information. Only personnel with the appropriate authorization will have access to your personal information and will use it strictly for clear and legitimate business purposes. (See Board Policy 117)
There are times when we must balance employee privacy with safety and security. During the course of your employment, we may perform and update your background, credit and reference checks.
In order to maintain the security of our workplace and property, employees, and visitors to our workplace, we may need to use surveillance, including video surveillance. We may also need to search or inspect the contents of offices, lockers, storage areas, file cabinets, desks, boxes, workstations, or personal property like packages, backpacks, bags, etc. We reserve the right to do these things at any time for legitimate security reasons only.
Substance abuse is contradictory to the health and safety of our employees, and we don’t permit it. You can’t use illegal substances, or distribute, manufacture, possess or dispense any illegal or prescription substances while on the job or on HomeWorks property. All employees are subject to pre-employment drug screens, and those employees who must maintain a Commercial Driver’s License as a condition of their employment are subject to random drug screens.
We also recognize drug and alcohol dependency as an illness and a major health problem. We provide supervisor training, employee assistance programs at both offices, and access to information concerning drug and alcohol abuse programs. (See Board Policy 203)
Third Party Inquiries - Including Media
From time to time you may receive inquiries about HomeWorks programs and projects from members of the press, attorneys, etc. These inquiries should be directed to the General Manager/CEO or the manager of communications; they are the only employees authorized to provide comments to the press.
For more information on what's okay to share, please refer to the Communications section above.
On the other hand, we do expect you to be aware of HomeWorks’ programs and services, such as the People Fund, Propane, and our youth programs, in case you’re asked by a neighbor or at the store, or to be able to direct inquiries to the right place.
The use of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, is strictly prohibited in our workplaces, company-owned vehicles and equipment. (See Board Policy 206.)
If you, or an immediate family member covered on HomeWorks health insurance, are ready to quit using tobacco, there is help available through Blue Cross/Blue Shield's Quit the Nic Program.
Visitors in the Workplace
You may have a visiting vendor, or perhaps you want to bring in the latest addition to your family to show off (whether it's a new baby or a new puppy). While we welcome visitors to HomeWorks, please remember:
- All visitors who enter the building at any time must sign in on the Visitor Log, wear a Visitor badge, and be escorted at all times.
- Please be thoughtful of employees who are continuing to work, especially those trying to hear our members over the phone. Move gatherings to the break room or other less-populated areas.
If you are injured on the job, report it to your supervisor immediately, no matter how minor it may seem. If your work-related injury interferes with your ability to work you may be eligible for Workers' Compensation benefits. Refer to the Workers' Compensation Policy.
There are work rules in place for the safety of our employees and members, as well as to support a good working environment and the professional, courteous service our member-customers expect. Read the HomeWorks Work Rules to make yourself aware of the rules and disciplinary actions that will be taken if those rules are violated.