Workplace ethics are on the rise among U.S. companies. As consumer consciousness of corporations' actions increases and employees' expectations from employers evolve, employers in the United States are largely forced to acknowledge the importance of workplace ethics and make changes. Otherwise, they risk losing skilled employees and receiving negative public push back. Ethical policies in the workplace not only protect company assets, but they also promote a healthy and emotionally secure work environment.
Having a written, applied and enforced code of ethics in your company has many benefits for your management, your employees and the general public alike.
Protects Fundamental Rights
When companies and workers think of the importance of workplace ethics, they typically think about protection against immoral behavior and illegal activity on the job. But workplace ethics also provide protection of basic human rights in the office. Employees in the United States have faced such issues as discrimination based on race, gender and disability, which gave birth to federal documents such as the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, that protect employees from such forms of discrimination.
Protects Company Assets
Workplace ethical standards protect the company from property theft by employees and falsifying documents like expense reports. Understanding the importance of work ethics also protects an organization from employees taking sick leave for vacation days, taking extended breaks or using office equipment for personal projects.
The key to protecting company assets is to value employee contributions and treat workers fairly, decently, and with dignity and respect. Employees who are proud of what they do for the company and feel their jobs are important to accomplishing the organization’s mission recognize the benefits of ethics in the workplace and are less likely to steal from their employers.
Provides Emotional Security
One of the greatest benefits of ethics in the workplace is that they provide emotional security. At a company that recognizes the importance of workplace ethics, employees can go to work knowing other workers won’t harass them, their supervisors will respect both them and their work and their co-workers will reap disciplinary measures if they steal supplies or equipment or falsify company records. Ultimately, either disciplined employees will learn from their mistakes and upgrade their ethical standards or the company will dismiss them. Such disciplinary practices foster a working environment of upstanding workers.
Promotes Cooperation and Teamwork
Organizations typically find a gap between the values they want their employees to emulate and the behaviors they actually reflect. Consequently, workplace ethics programs align behaviors of workers with the values of their employers. This “meeting of the minds” fosters an atmosphere of openness, trust and partnership, all of which are critical for team building. And when employees understand their supervisors’ expectations, they feel strongly motivated to excel at their jobs.
Fosters a Positive Public Image
With the public eye on your business, workplace ethics helps build you a positive reputation. This is particularly true for high-profile companies or for nonprofit organizations that rely on government grants or private donations, because such donors need to know how you plan to use their money.
High ethical standards in your workplace let such outsiders know that you will use their money as you have stipulated and that they will see the end results of their contributions. If you have received donations for youth programs, for example, provide your donors with a list of such programs that their monies have paid for, including specific names and content of workshops.
Donna Ferrier has been a writer and editor since 1990. She has written articles for "Training and Development Journal," "Officer Review" magazine and "Signature Service and Business Printing Technologies Report." Ferrier has written website copy, press releases, resumes, flyers and fund-raising letters. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia.