Workplace ethics are the beliefs and practices employees have regarding right and wrong behavior in the workplace. These can be personal, moral views, or dictated by company policy.
A company’s workplace ethics are key in how that organization is perceived by the general public and other businesses. Having an ethical workplace must start from the top management down to each employee. Good workplace ethics are shown when organizations treat their suppliers and customers well, communicate effectively both internally and externally, and work Ethical values whistleblower reporting systems hard at what they do.
What qualifies as ethical behavior in the workplace?
Workplace ethics, often known as company ethics, are the ethical aspects of businesses and company activities. The phrase encompasses virtually every issue that may come up in a business, from manufacturing to distribution to marketing to selling to consuming the goods and services supplied.
According to a 2018 poll of ethics in the workplace conducted by the Ethics & Compliance Institute (ECI), 47% of respondents had personally witnessed unethical behavior that was both legal and organizational ethical standards. The 2019 Global Business Ethics Survey showed misconduct manifests in several negative ways. To understand workplace ethics’ detriments, it helps to look at how businesses have displayed and promoted negative behaviors in the past.
For a deeper understanding of the typical ethical issues in business that might have an impact on an organization’s success, see 6 Major Business Ethics Issues and What to Do About Them.
Workplace ethics are based on moral philosophy, which means it is how an individual or company’s morality affects the decisions made and behaviors exhibited. It’s crucial to understand the dissimilarity between what is legal and what is ethical. Just because a behavior may be legal doesn’t make it right.
Workplace Ethics and Values
If employees see others breaking the rules and getting away with it, they may think it’s okay for them to do so too. This sends the message that not only is this behavior tolerated, but it’s also acceptable. In worst-case scenarios, employees may view the company negatively and choose to leave. A culture that encourages misconduct, for example, might lead to higher turnover, lower productivity, and ultimately a damaged reputation and profit.
When an organization does not take a stand against unethical behavior, it will always lose, even if the people involved in the wrongdoings don’t think they’re major. Unethical behavior that goes unchecked breaks down the moral foundation of an organization, paving the way for even bigger problems later on.
Employee Conduct in Action
Workplace ethics may be classified into two larger categories of effort: how an employee regulates themselves within the workplace and how the company behaves both internally and externally (how ethics are employed in business culture). Both have a significant influence on staff morale, productivity, loyalty, job turnover, and work ethic.
The Importance of Work Ethics
By establishing systems and habits for efficient task completion and positive interactions in the workplace, managerial styles can inspire employees to work harder. Even better, if companies reward ethical behavior, they’re more likely to ensure that such conduct is carried out at all levels of the organization– activities that are bound to positively alter how the general public perceives the company.
There are 8 primary characteristics of a strong employee work ethic:
- Being punctual shows that you respect the time of your coworkers and supervisors. This includes completing projects when they are due, being on time, taking breaks at designated times, and informing people of any issues as soon as possible.
- Both employees and employers must be held accountable for their work efforts. This means that they should take responsibility for ongoing projects and accept blame when necessary.
- To effectively execute a project, an employee must maintain attention and avoid distractions such as chatter, social media, technology, and other factors.
- Initiatives: This is when an employee does something beneficial or productive for the firm without being prompted. Employees who are strong care more about doing what’s required to help the business grow than they do about checking off items on their to-do lists. Shown by initiative in job efforts, this evidence shows that a staff member recognizes the importance of success.
- Productivity: An employee’s capacity to overcome distractions, disregard external influences, and conquer roadblocks that impede them from completing their work is called productivity.
- Professionalism: employees who possess professionalism are visible and take their employment seriously, maintaining a professional demeanor and dressing appropriately.
- Dedication is defined as a firm commitment to a goal that endures over time.
- Having a Desire to Improve: employees who are willing to work and learn from feedback show that they want to progress in their careers.
Working in a professional environment: What Are the Ethics?
Beyond the individual’s attempts to act ethically in their work, there is a broader context of how company ethics are formed and how an organization behaves both internally and externally.
All personnel should have access to the company’s employee code of conduct at all times so that everyone in an organization knows where the firm stands on various ethical questions. It will say a lot about both the individual’s character and the organization’s tolerance for unethical behavior if some illegal actions appear to some as harmless but are not addressed.
The following are some of the most frequent examples of unethical behavior in the workplace:
- Unfair Favoritism. If you witness colleagues receiving better treatment at work due to personal relationships, such as friendships or family ties, this is an example of unfair favoritism. Sexual and/or romantic relationships in the workplace are also problematic since they can lead to preferential treatment. These types of situations should be reported by employees who witness them happening.
- Gossiping is frowned upon in the workplace. Unethical and evidence of untrustworthiness, spreading false rumors about coworkers, projects, or anything else business-related is both unlawful and suspicious.
- Misconduct. Whether it’s stealing credit for a colleague’s project or providing wrongful info about progress, dishonestyERP in the workplace can put a halt to an individual’s career growth. Although it may not appear as a big issue, even lesser offenses have negative consequences.
- Selfishness. In all things, thinking only of oneself is not a cooperative or ethical behavior that coworkers are likely to accept.
The system of corporate ethics
To maintain a good reputation, companies need to monitor ethical dilemmas on both a small and large scale. This includes everything from environmental practices and payroll choices to political wrangling, hiring processes and policies, revenue reporting, etc. Creating and upholding an ethical stance for the company is essential in terms of how they’re perceived by the public as well as its internal operations.
As referenced earlier, the 2019 Global Business Ethics Survey showed the following findings in regards to creating a corporate culture of ethics:
- Organizational ethics cultures with a “strong” or “strong-leaning” profile rose to 66%.
- The number of organizations providing ethics training grew to 81%.
- Ethical conduct is important to 67% of organizations and is included as a measure in employee evaluations.
- When misconduct occurred, over 75% of organizations communicated internally about misconduct.
Maintaining an ethical workplace culture leads to greater financial success for companies, as well as more motivated and productive employees.
The Advantages of Maintaining Strong Workplace Ethics
Ethics are the set of guidelines that tell employees how they should behave while at work. Even though companies have always stressed the importance of ethics and good workplace behavior, there are still challenges that arise when it comes to ethical problems with corporate conduct and decisions.
By beginning with honest, competent promotions in productivity-based workplace culture, employees will be likely to use those driving principles of decency and fairness to improve company morale. In the long run, this increases an organization’s reputation and creates opportunities for success. Businesses must understand the components and challenges of workplace ethics and behavior to create positive working environments for their staff.