Unethical conduct at the workplace can permeate business operations and practices and employee relationships. This article looks at some common ethical concerns and possible solutions.
Unethical behavior can be obvious, like spending company funds inappropriately or manipulating numbers, but it can also be subtle. Examples of the latter are bullying, asking employees to circumvent procedures, or accepting inappropriate presents from customers or suppliers.
Companies typically organize basic training on compulsory topics once a year, but not more often than that. A possible solution could be to make mandatory training available to the leadership once every three months. This can take the form of a brief course that takes a few minutes to complete and is followed by a short test. HR departments can create some basic tutorials. Strict control and hefty penalties for unethical leaders can also be a powerful deterrent.
Direct, discreet lines of communication
Another possibility is setting up an anonymous line for staff members to call and train them to use it. This can be effective, but signals need to be investigated thoroughly, which will increase expenditure.
Not only leaders are prone to bending the rules and resorting to dubious practices. Workplace solidarity is a good thing, but employees can take it too far. One such phenomenon is buddy punching. An employee might notice a coworker is running late and punch them in to help out. Even if the employer uses swipe cards or assigns employee codes, the staff can share them. This can spiral out of control quickly, with employees working late punching coworkers in after they have left and early employees reciprocating. Ultimately, the company might end up paying lots of undue overtime.
The most effective option is a time-tracking system that enables location data. Companies can use geofencing and GPS tracking to automate how employees clock in and out.
The company sets an unrealistic and unachievable goal, be it a production count or a monthly sales figure. The unethical part comes when people try to reach that unattainable goal. Managers might put excessive pressure on their employees, and employees might consider breaching legal or ethical guidelines or cutting corners to achieve targets.
Managers should revisit targets and reassess performance expectations, especially if it’s obvious their teams are systematically failing to meet goals. Employees should not silently agree to impossible deadlines. They must communicate their concerns, and managers should consider resource limitations. Assessing the resources needed beyond what they dispose of might be in order. Resources may include equipment, skills, money, tools, and people.
Wasting time at work
Improper use of company technology and the internet costs organizations dearly, both in terms of time and money. A recent survey found that over 60% of employees visit non-work related sites on company time. Taking breaks to check notifications or using company apps to work on side gigs can ultimately have a snowball effect.
Restricting access to social media websites during work hours can minimize time-wasting activities online. Managers should also communicate clear expectations about internet use at the workplace. They should offer consistent feedback on employee performance and how time-wasting can impact it adversely.
There is no harmless ethical breach, even though few of them end up making headlines. When you are concerned about an unethical situation or behavior, consider what you value most as a person and a professional to respond appropriately. Senior management and leaders need a constant reminder to consider their motivations in the process of decision-making, as their decisions influence employees dramatically. It’s essential to assess this process carefully because some decisions at work are irreversible.