Encouraging Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Encouraging Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Business ethics is a fundamental term that is applicable to all workplaces. Irrespective of the nature of an organization and its function, an unethical employee promotes corruption and also could be a liability to an organization. Therefore, it becomes important for an organization to encourage its employees to adhere to ethical behavior.

Here are some ways for organizations to encourage ethical behavior.

  • 1. Communicating the code of ethics: The preliminary step to promote ethical behavior among employees is by establishing a code of ethics. The code of ethics provides the direction and guidelines for employees’ ethical behavior. Employees need to be familiarized with the code of ethics either through a company manual or posters. This enables the employees to have a clear idea of the management’s expectation with respect to employee code and conduct.
  • 2. Making the managers as role model: Having managers as role models is another way of promoting ethical behavior. For this purpose, managers need to be chosen with care and due consideration. This will be beneficial in the following ways.
    a) Employees will have a guiding force to promote ethical behavior
    b) Employees tend to emulate their managers and if they are ethical in their behavior, it lends more credibility to the code of ethics
    c) If managers strictly adhere to ethical standards themselves, employees will feel less reluctant to oppose the guidelines laid out for ethical behavior
  • 3. Disciplinary actions for unethical behavior: Condemning any malpractice or unethical behavior in the initial stages itself is better than allowing it to proliferate to other areas of the organization. Imposing sanctions on unethical behavior helps the employees to understand the implications of inappropriate behavior. Therefore, the management needs to lay down disciplinary actions that will be taken against employees found guilty of violating the rules. If management promotes sales ‘at all costs’, then employees might resort to any methods to achieve their targets. However, if management is serious about the means as much as the results, they should make sure that it is conveyed in no uncertain terms to their employees.
  • 4. Rewards for ethical behavior: When an employee is rewarded for positive behavior, it is likely that the employee will not only continue to adhere to ethical practices but also be an inspiration to his colleagues. Therefore, it is important that employers identify and reward employees who stick to ethical practices despite tempting situations.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the management to promote ethical behavior among their employees. The organizational culture together with its mission and vision statement influences the ethical behavior of their employees. Do share your thoughts on the same.

View Presentation On Ethics in the Workplace

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Written By

Arindam Nag is an Instructional Designer at CommLab India. He is responsible for developing instructional material for customer training courses. Connect with him on twitter @ArindamNag8.

Tags: HR Training
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