Ethical business practice or the lack of it is something that has been highlighted in the news on a number of occasions over the past few years: from the horsemeat scandal to the mis-selling of PPI.
Having a statement of ethical principles posted on your company website, hanging on the office wall or printed in your annual report, means little if your employees fail to share those values with you.
It can be hard to remain ethical when the pressure is on. Perhaps you encourage your staff to work overtime for little or no pay or perhaps your employees have taken advantage of the company credit card.
According to a survey by the Institute of Business Ethics in 2012, 35% of employees thought they were being asked to do something that conflicted with their own personal ethics.
How to promote good ethics:
Set a good example
If you, as the leader of your business, are not seen as ethical, why should your employees be? It is important that you are seen as an ethical person and do not associate yourself with any people or businesses that have a reputation for being unethical. Essentially, you need to practice what you preach - that might mean cutting back on those extra-long weekends and ‘borrowing’ office stationary.
Offer training courses
You probably have training for equality and diversity, leadership and management, health and safety, but what about ethics training? Your workforce needs to know that ethics are taken seriously and how it works on a day-to-day basis. A good training course will explore real-life values, provide scenarios and give advice and guidance around the legalities of ethics.
Give employees more time off
There is a law in place that means UK employees are entitled to 28 days’ holiday a year, but that is the minimum – not the maximum. A 2013 study by Christopher Barnes of Foster School of Business found that people were more likely to cheat on a test if they had less sleep. Giving your staff more time to rest and recuperate will make them more inclined to be ethical.
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