One of the most important traits of an employee is his/her ethics. Ethics are the moral principles that dictate how a person behaves and reacts in dubious situations or ethical dilemmas. As we can imagine, promoting and investing in an ethical workplace has many advantages.
Ethics reinforce cooperation and respect among workers and improve workforce relationships. This increases employees’ productivity and performance. In addition, companies and leaders should reward, or at least recognise workers who act ethically. It is a way to encourage other employees to do the same. In fact, organisations should promote trainings and workshops on ethical dilemmas that workers may face at work. They should as well offer onboarding programmes focused on the companies’ ethics. Workers must understand and act according to the ethics of their employers.
The fact that the number of Millennials is growing in the workplace nowadays has also strengthened the value of ethics in the workplace, given the importance this generation gives to it. The 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey showed that ethics were one of the most common reasons why “millennials change their relationship with businesses.”
In practice, a company’s ethics can influence the relationship with its consumers/clients. Globalisation and democratisation of the Internet have made it easier for customers to know the ethics and organisational behaviours of companies. Thus, for organisations that invest in ethical behaviours, it is easier to retain and attract buyers.
As a matter of fact, companies that invest in ethics attract the best Talents more easily. People are more likely to work for companies committed to ethical practices.
Also, leaders must act ethically to promote employees’ ethical practices. To do so, companies should not only work and improve their management approaches but also create ethical codes. In addition, leaders at all levels should be aware of their words and actions, as they can influence workers. The separation between the president and CEO can be helpful as there is an improved structure of checks and balances. Thus, it is more difficult to act unethically or break the law.
In addition, a 2019 study conducted by Maryam Kouchaki, Mahdi Ebrahimi and Vanessa Patrick found that workers with low identity integration were more likely to act dishonestly. So, companies should promote strategies to make employees feel comfortable enough to be themselves and act authentically in the workplace.
In the same way, companies need to give workers tools to allow them to report unethical situations, in a way that does not harm the worker.
Despite all these strategies to make workplaces more ethical, a 2018 IBE study conducted in eight different European countries, showed that only 23% of employees feel incentives from their organisations to “behave ethically.” The same study showed that one in three employees was aware of misconduct in their company. Most of these misconducts were related to “People treated inappropriately/unethically.”
- How Can Companies Encourage Ethics in the Workplace? December 2018, Medium
- How Leaders Determine Workplace Ethics, October 2019, Business News Daily
- Why Authentic Workplaces Are More Ethical, June 2019, Harvard Business Review