This article relates to the Ethics in the Workplace competency, commonly evaluated in employee surveys. It gives examples of how employees and customers consider ethical behavior and sound values an integral part of your organization. This competency covers a variety of topics like customer treatment, employee professionalism, and expected/acceptable organizational behaviors. At a high level, this competency will investigate the standards by which your employees treat your customers, co-workers, and the organization itself.
This short story, Workplace Ethics: Reaching the Highest Standard, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales from the Corporate Frontlines. It provides insight into one organization's efforts to establish and maintain the highest possible standard of ethics in the workplace.
When I began working at a local no-profit organization, I had little experience with the concept of workplace ethics. My previous jobs had been in retail and health care, where I'd worked in team environments, and the companies I'd worked for weren't ethics oriented. I'd seen a few memos dealing with issues like sexual harassment, but no extensive workplace ethics programs appeared to be in place. When a situation arose that involved an ethics issue, employees turned to immediate supervisors for direction and then followed that direction.
So, I was surprised when, only two weeks into my new job, I was asked to join a focus group dedicated to revamping the organization's ethics program. The Human Resources department was gathering info to use in conjunction with data to be gained from an upcoming employee satisfaction survey. I agreed to participate, making it clear that I had no idea what was involved, but would do my best to make the group's effort a success.
When I arrived at the first meeting, I didn't know what to expect. The facilitator made it clear from the start that the main purpose of the group was to gain feedback about employee estimation of the current workplace ethics program. He handed out an information packet containing the applicable policies as well as all the procedures currently in place. We were asked to review it all and return with our honest comments and reactions with regard to effectiveness, compatibility with our personal values, and relationship to the organizational culture. Evaluation forms were provided to help with this process. He also made it clear that all participation was completely voluntary, and we should not feel pressure to discuss any issues with which we felt uncomfortable.
We were also asked to consider:
* Whether the company wide standards of conduct were strict enough
* Whether the leadership represented a strong enough role model
* Whether core values such as respect and honesty were demonstrated visibly enough in the everyday operation of the organization.
It was a thorough and complete review process. Finally, it occurred to me that as a non-profit organization, we really had an obligation to be sure that we were operating within the highest possible ethical standards. At the end of the process, and after the results from the employee satisfaction survey were in, changes would be made as needed to ensure that we had an exceptional workplace ethics program in place. A good thing, in my opinion, for any company that wants to strengthen its reputation and create a highly ethical workplace culture.
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Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc.
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