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How To Improve Ethics In The Workplace?

June 28, 2021

Sustainability, eco-friendly living & ethical conduct are all concepts that work hand in hand.

We focus a lot on the impacts of our behaviours & activities on the environment, but we mustn’t forget about our impact on each other.

What are ethics? Ethics are values that govern how people conduct themselves — usually, these values are based on morals, good conduct & fairness.

Let us review the workplace as a befitting example.

As life evolves and people become more conscious, we have been able to both review & understand the difference between what is blatantly wrong & what is right. Many people are making decisions to align themselves with companies that mirror their values to find more purpose within their roles. A survey conducted on 2000 people found *62% of people want to work for a company that makes a positive impact & 53% of those said it would make them work harder if they knew they had a direct impact. People are considering the delicate details more & more to help them find a sense of purpose.

On average, a full-time employee will spend anything from 176 hours at work every single month. It is a considerable amount of time, so the more fulfilled someone can feel in that space, the better.

We want workplaces to nurture this desire that many people have & want them to strive to mirror these sentiments within their internal practices.

How can workplaces become more ethical?

Be the example:

  • For those of you that find yourself in senior positions in the company, it is so important that you live out these ethics. Your employees look to you for guidance & many of them look up to you in a role model sense. It is vital to mirror respect, consideration & fairness & this can be done whilst bearing in mind the business goals — you can have it all!
  • Make sure you remind people of your values through your communications. When onboarding staff into the company, let them know what fundamental values run through the business. Whenever company-wide comms are sent out, include sections that reinforce some of your key values. This will serve as a constant reminder to your staff that they are important to you.
  • Shine light on employees who are championing your values. For the most part, true integrity is hard to measure, as it is more to do with what they do when nobody is there. However, in the moments that employees openly demonstrate your core values, praise them for it.
  • As a business, always strive to do the right thing. It can be hard when profits are on the line, but it is essential to stand for something. Be very careful with what you choose to ignore or allow — this can set the tone for how business is conducted from then onwards.

Deal with unethical behaviour accordingly:

  • Create an environment that encourages ethical behaviour & stands against immoral practices. Employees should know that certain behaviours would not be excused & it creates a clear sense of where you stand.
  • Keep an eye out for employees who may be pushing negativity & down talking to other staff members. Unfortunately, *23% of the British workforce has been bullied at work, making this is a fairly common issue. There should be no room for narcissistic behaviours in the workspace; keep an eye & be sure to check in on staff members who seem down or withdraw.

Be ethical from the inside out:

  • This goes beyond the point made above about being the example; this is about the internal structure, company culture & fairness.
  • Review your policies & challenge redundant practices. It isn’t always easy to be mindful of how certain things impact specific groups. The advice is to review things periodically, bearing everyone in mind; you’re able to test & see where there may be imbalances. You can also call upon feedback from staff; this can help set you on the right track.
  • Organisational politics are often the reasons for frustrations & fear within a job role. If it isn’t controlled, it can do some lasting damage to the esteem of certain staff members. Be on top of this.

Write it down somewhere:

  • It is easy to verbally express that we want people to demonstrate loyalty, commitment & integrity. We want people to draw upon material & this makes it ‘real’. Have a document somewhere on a drive & make sure staff know where to find all the information.
  • The point above is also handy when inducting new recruits or during your interviewing process. You can clearly & concisely communicate these values to potential recruits. This can also be a good reference point when looking for candidates whose personal values align with the companies.
Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

We all have different motivations for why we do what we do. However, it has been found that people feel better about themselves if they love what they do. A consultant Simon Cohen summed it up quite well. He said: “By creating a culture and environment which has values that are meaningful and aligned with those of staff, people are more motivated to work for you and will bend over backwards for things that they believe in.

“Employees are not just doing it because it is a job; the work becomes an extension of themselves. Values don’t stop or start when you get into the office or go home; they are a part of you and what you are passionate about.

Let us consider all of the points above when reviewing the current state of our workspaces. If you find yourself in a senior position, this may give you some pointers about where to start. An environment that promotes growth, integrity & forward-thinking is bound to motivate the workforce behind it.

Our work to help our planet doesn’t just stop at nature. We are all part of that, too — let’s all do our bit to make positive steps towards real change!


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