Ethics are the principles by which individuals behave in all aspects of their lives, both personal and professional. With the public's greater focus on ethical issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, companies understand the need to ensure workplace ethics are firmly in place. Strong company ethics create a unified company culture, providing employees with a feeling of safety and well being, and therefore increasing productivity and effectiveness.
Workplace ethics vary across industries. Health care workers adhere to a different set of workplace ethics than those in the manufacturing industry. Therefore, workplace ethics depend on the industry and its relationships with its consumers and vendors. Industry and governmental regulations also help shape workplace ethics as such regulations vary across regions and industries.
Workplace ethics cover a wide variety of topics, often including fairness, responsibility, accountability, respect, caring, and integrity.
Steps to Bring Workplace Ethics to the Forefront
The obvious first step is to establish a company policy regarding workplace ethics. These policies need to specify acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the workplace by employees and management alike. Such policies typically include harassment, dress code, employee behavior, and consequences for not complying with the guidelines.
Next, the company needs to place a clear importance on maintaining high ethical standards in the workplace at all levels. Supervisors need to stress honesty from both themselves and employees. Employees need to feel that being honest will not hurt their job prospects and the company values their input.
Developing a system to report unethical behavior is key to the process. Top management and owners are often not aware of unethical behavior taking place in the company until the situation has blown out of control. To prevent this from happening in the future, a process needs to be set for employees to report such behavior. This process needs to be user-friendly, resulting in a quick response to all reports, provide anonymity, and lead to follow-up.
Consequences of unethical conduct need to be clearly delineated. These consequences must be enforced equally across all employees and management. Understanding that the consequences will be enforced provides added motivation for everyone within the company to follow the workplace ethics as stated in the company policy.
Teaching Workplace Ethics
Teaching starts when new employees are hired and continues throughout their employment with the company. Teaching through lectures is not very effective. Employing alternative methods are essential to relay the information.
One such method is role-playing. Setting up scenarios and having employees take on the various roles provides them with the opportunity to work through various situations and determine how to best deal with any possible issues that might arise.
Discussing workplace ethics is more effective than lecturing. Putting groups of employees together and providing the opportunity to brainstorm possible ethical issues, as well as effective ways of dealing with those situations, allow everyone to feel invested in the program. Such investment brings about a greater desire to uphold those ethics amongst all involved.
A third method is employing the services of a motivational speaker. Such speakers use humor and personal experiences to draw their audience into a common viewpoint. Workplace ethics are brought to the forefront without individuals feeling censured or threatened.
One such speaker is Brad Hurtig who lost both hands in a workplace accident while still in high school. His infectious humor and ability to recreate situations highlight the importance of workplace ethics while also entertaining. Contact us today to have Brad speak at your place of business.