What are workplace ethics and why are they important?
Workplace ethics, also called business ethics, is a set of principles that guide a business and its employees to implement just practices into their day-to-day operations. Workplace ethics are important for a variety of reasons. Here are some examples of potential benefits as mentioned by SpriggHR:
- Encourages equal treatment of employees: Good workplace ethics can help promote the equal treatment of all employees regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. This could also help prevent those in managerial or supervisory roles from showing favoritism for one employee over the other for factors that don’t have to deal with work performance.
- Promotes healthy relationships with junior employees: An moral work environment could help instill healthy professional boundaries between company officials and their employees by fostering values in respect and compassion.
- Contributes to better productivity: Workplace ethics can also apply to factors like time theft. In this situation, employees might produce work at a more consistent rate because they are being held accountable for the company contributions.
- Enhances overall company image: When a workplace promotes ethical practices and procedures at the internal level, this can further translate to a better brand image on an external level. For example, a company that provides adequate working conditions to factory workers may receive more public praise and sales than a company that does not.
- Limits high turnover rates: When a workplace exhibits a lack of morals, some employees might leave to seek better working standards. By promoting workplace ethics, you can also promote employee loyalty to your company by further providing them with a safe and healthy workplace.
How to assess your business’s workplace culture/ethics
According to Forbes, there are several ways business owners can assess the scope of ethical behaviors within their workplace. The following list of steps can be used to assess your current business’s workplace ethics or overall culture:
1. Monitor productivity rates across the company
Workplace ethics can have a significant impact on productivity due to accountability. Meet with department heads and review company documents to determine if each department hits its quotas, deadlines or short-term goals. If there is limited productivity, this could be a sign that you need to reinforce your expectations to each department.
2. Review financial records to identify lost profits
As a business owner, it is important that you review financial records in the event of embezzlement, stealing or fraud. If you notice errors or missing information, work with the accounting department to establish the cause. This can help you differentiate between accidents and dishonesty.
3. Send out a survey to employees asking them to rate workplace ethics
By providing your employees with an anonymous platform for providing feedback about your workplace, you can get a better sense of what is happening at the lower levels of your company. For example, if one survey describes several incidents where an employee took copy paper home, this could be an opportunity for you to hold a meeting about inventory expenses.
4. Compare current practices to your company values and mission statement
Review your company’s mission statement and values before reflecting on your company’s current practices. If there are discrepancies between the two, then it might be time to reform your business practices to align with your mission and values. For example, if you promote a healthy work-life balance, but your employees typically work over 40 hours a week, you might consider providing your employees with extra vacation days.
5. Send out a survey to loyal customers to identify company ethics from an external perspective
Getting an outside perspective can help you further assess your company’s ethical behaviors. For example, if one of your company values promotes the idea of customer service, whereas customers give low ratings, this could be a sign that you need to retrain your customer service department to meet your standards.
6. Observe employee behaviors during the day or at company events
In addition to other methods, a simple way to gauge workplace ethics is by observing the way your employees behave while at work or at company meetings. If your employees are always eager to help their coworkers and actively engage in meetings, this could be a good sign that your workplace exhibits ethical behaviors.
What can businesses do to shape an ethical workplace?
According to Unicorn HRO, there are many ways to shape and maintain an ethical workplace. Here are some examples to help you cultivate your own approach:
Outline ethical behaviors during employee onboarding
Promote ethical behaviors right at the start by implementing ethics training into the employee onboarding process. You can work with the HR department to cultivate a unique training program that helps new employees get a sense of the organizational culture and expectations for their conduct.
Promote ethical behavior with recognition and positive feedback
You can also instill value in ethical workplace behaviors by acknowledging employees who exhibit excellent teamwork, productivity or accountability. You could hold an ethics event each year and award those who exhibit exceptional ethical standards.
Create a system for reporting unethical behavior
If your company does not have a confidential way for employees to report misconduct, you could miss potential developing problems within your company. You could create an anonymous email to which employees direct complaints, or you could devise a system with HR that enables employees to talk with someone in person.
Lead by example
It is your job to act as a role model for the rest of the company. Be transparent, hold yourself accountable and exhibit ethical behaviors to show your employees how they should act as well.