What you Need to Know About Ethics in the Workplace

If you wish to be viewed as a valuable team member at work, one of your best professional traits will be to consistently display ethical behavior in the workplace.

Workplace ethics are a set of values, moral principles, and standards that must be followed by all employers and employees in the workplace. They are intended to ensure employer- employee relationships and employee-customer relationships are fair and both parties are satisfied with the relationship.

Some workplaces will specifically document some ethical behaviors, perhaps in a company handbook, while other behaviors may be implied but not documented.

When ethical behaviors are not being met to the required standards, lawyers may be needed to assess the maintenance of workers’ rights throughout an ethics investigation.

If you feel the ethics in your business are falling short of what is required, you should address this with the appropriate management to avoid issues becoming worse.

What are Ethical Behaviors in the Workplace?

Examples of ethical behaviors in the workplace include:

  • Obeying the company’s rules & regulation
  • Communicating effectively
  • Developing professional relationships
  • Taking responsibility
  • Professionalism/Standards
  • Being accountable
  • Upholding trust
  • Showing initiative without being told
  • Respecting your colleagues
  • Working smarter

What are Unethical Behaviors in the Workplace?

  • Lies
  • Taking Credit for Others Hard Work
  • Verbal Harassment/Abuse
  • Violence
  • Non-Office Related Work
  • Extended Breaks
  • Theft/Embezzlement
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Corrupt Practices
  • Management/Employers Unethical Behaviors
  • Sex for Job/Promotion
  • Late Night Out/Unpaid Overtime
  • Verbal Harassment
  • Undue Pressure
  • Nepotism
  • Unfriendly Work Environment
  • Unrealistic Expectations.

How can you Learn Ethical Behaviors?

When you read the lists above, it seems straightforward, respect your employer, you work colleagues and your customers, be honest, and don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you.

However, some these are not as black and white as they may appear.

Making a couple of innocent comments about a colleagues appearance may be received by one colleague with thanks, while another colleague could misconstrue the same comments as a form of sexual harassment!

Your HR department can implement ethics in the workplace by having written standards and ensuring all staff read these as part of their induction program and always have easy access to this information.

To ensure the behaviors are understood, a specific ethics program can be introduced, including:

  • Training on expectations
  • Resources to use for advice
  • Reporting process for violations (ideally confidential)
  • Evaluation system for ethical behavior
  • Discipline system for violations

Regular trainings will support awareness of the issue, and while in-person trainings will be more engaging, online trainings can be quicker and easier to implement.

Advantages and Implications of Workplace Ethics

Where poor workplace ethics exist, there can be distrust between employees, management, and colleagues.

Morale will be low, which leads to low productivity, and this reduces further as time is spent investigating and dealing with various disputes.

In some situations, poor ethical behaviors can become public knowledge which results in difficulty recruiting staff and risks the loss of customers.

However, when successfully implemented, workplace ethics will create a positive and stimulating atmosphere in the workplace. Happy workers will put in greater effort and respect those they work with, including management.

This leads to a workforce experiencing job satisfaction and maximizing their productivity.

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