Workplace Ethics Training
Contemporary businesses focus on profitability and success. They profess doing whatever it takes to make profits. So where do workplace ethics fit in such a scenario? Well, if you see the recent cases of scandals, frauds and irregularities that have been reported in the mass media related to business executives, it seems mandatory that ethics make a strong comeback in the workplace. Clearly, you cannot make a syllabus of ethics, chart lesson plans and start preaching your employees, as values and ethics are something inbuilt. Here are some training methods, which have been devised keeping these things in mind. But before moving to the training methods, let’s see why ethics training is beneficial for your organization.
Benefits of ethics training in the workplace:
- Ethics training programs help in building strong teams and foster professionalism in the workplace, thus helping to promote a strong teamwork and productivity.
- Due to the prevalence of ethical culture in the organization, the quality of goods and services provided by the company is not compromised. Hence, ethics training helps in quality management.
- A company whose employees possess strong business values and ethics have a strong public image. This results in increased sales and profits, as people trust their products and services more than those of any other company.
Ethics Training Methods:
Written Code of Conduct: Develop a written code of conduct. Define clearly the importance of ethics in your organization. Distribute a copy of it, to all the employees. Defining and writing a code of conduct as well as the requisite guidelines in your organization will increase the awareness of ethical issues and strengthen the conduct of employees in the workplace. It also aims to instill organizational values, beliefs, rules and regulations in the minds of the employees and helps them to draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Develop a Culture of Ethics: While formulating goals for a particular year, give primary focus to ethics training in the workplace. Constitute a committee at the board level. Make the CEO and the senior managers chief participants in this. Appoint an officer, especially for this purpose. All these initiatives on your part will give an impression to the employees that you are very serious about the guidelines and policies at work, thus, ensuring an ethical behavior on the part of the employees.
Involve the Staff: Involve the employees, whenever you have a review of the codes. This will serve as a training in itself. Also, involve them while reviewing professional ethics and personal policies.
Be a Role Model: Practice what you preach! If the senior managers themselves are involved in certain unethical behavior like showing inflated profits or misusing the corporate finances, the employees will follow suit. So the senior managers and the CEO should be morally upright, and set exemplary standards of ethical behavior in the workplace.
Incentives for Ethical Behavior: Formulate such policies that reward ethical behavior on the part of the employees. Put in place some consequences for unethical behavior too. In performance appraisals, use ethical performance as a criterion for judging the employee’s work and decide his pay hikes and incentives accordingly.
Discussions and Debates: Have regular discussions or seminars on business ethics and business etiquette. Choose topics like: “The importance of ethics in life”, “Personal values in conflict with workplace values” or “Do you think ethics are important for success.” The main idea behind these debates and discussions is to make the employees think about their conduct in the office and take corrective measures if required.
Role Plays: Conducting role plays by using real life situations make the ethics training program interesting and encourage active participation. Give real life situations to your employees and ask them to show their course of action in those scenarios. Give them situations such as: “You see an employee stealing office stationery, what will you do?” Or “you are the sales person of the company and you give inaccurate information to a potential customer about the company’s product to make a sale.” After role plays, present before them the consequences of these actions; like in the latter case, the customers will not trust the company again and this could prove detrimental to the company’s image. Conducting such sessions will make the employees think twice, before committing any such errors in the future.
Remember to train employees across all departments and hierarchies of your organization.
by Aastha Dogra.