Workplace ethics aren’t often legally binding, however working unethically can breach regulations and can have dire consequences for a business. A toxic work environment often stems from a lack of ethics in the workplace and employees and business can suffer as a result of this.
Some of the most common behaviours include taking credibility for work that doesn’t belong to you, taking an extended break without permission and calling in sick when you are perfectly healthy. When others take advantage of the workplace, they often forget about how this affects others around them, as in many instances, the work that they miss will have to be completed by somebody else.
Despite experiencing this every day, a National Business Ethics Survey has revealed that as many as 65% of participants would not consider reporting unethical behaviour to management or higher authority. The reason for this being that they didn’t want their own career to be damaged, or that they didn’t want to create an awkward workplace atmosphere.
Ethical Policies in the Workplace
In order to prevent a recurrence of poor behaviour, it’s important to create a code of ethics for the workplace. Having a set code of ethics that are introduced to every staff member when they are initially employed, outlining consequences for failure to comply can reduce unethical behaviour tenfold. It’s recommended that you work with HR in order to create a succinct code, so that you are not asking too little or too much of your employees.
Giving Responsibility to Your Employees
It’s important to also deliver workplace ethics training to new starters and as a refresher to existing staff. Working in a proactive manner will prevent you from having to take reactive measures, such as disciplinary action after somebody has broken the workplace code of ethics.
Appointing a team leader within the company can allow for a member of staff to act as a mediator, should any problematic situations arise. It can often feel daunting for employees to speak to the management about certain issues that arise, so it’s always a good idea to have a middle man who can relay information and potentially resolve situations without further intervention.
Reporting Unethical Behaviour
Reporting unethical behaviour to seniority in the workplace can be a daunting task, however as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to let your employees know that you will support them in such instances. It’s important to ensure a level of anonymity and confidence if your employees raise any ongoing issues, in order to prevent any awkward situations from arising within the workplace.
Within your code of ethics, it’s always a good idea to outline the process for reporting any unethical behaviour. Setting up face to face meetings, a direct email communication or even a hotline in a larger scale business, can encourage employees to come forward if they are not happy with something in the workplace. Each matter should be taken seriously and a fair outcome should be decided.
Approaching ethics in the workplace can be extremely difficult, especially if there are no preexisting measures in place to resolve ongoing issues. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to create a system where people feel comfortable reporting unethical behaviour, as well as a fair code of ethics to work from.
Alice Porter works closely with the Dispute Resolution Lawyers to better inform people on how to create a more ethical and enjoyable work environment.