Does your company have a code of ethics? If your employees were asked to name even one of your business’ ethics policies, would they be able to do so? While many business owners will pride themselves on running an ethical company, few ever take the time to question whether their staff is aware of specific company ethics policies. If you want to help guard your company against questionable business ethics, following are a few tips you can consider to ensure compliance with company policies and to help guard against bad employee behavior.
Written Code of Ethics
If your employees and managers don’t have access to your company’s code of ethics, how can they be expected to uphold your business’ standards? If you’re going to pride yourself on being an ethical company, make sure your company’s code of ethics is in writing and accessible to all.
Reporting Bad Behavior
Reporting questionable conduct should be easy for your staff. The more layers of difficulty in reporting bad behavior, the less likely your team members are to advise upper management.
If you want to ensure employees report questionable conduct, there needs to be visible consequences for transgressors. If the only punishment is a noted infraction on their employment file, how does that dissuade other employees from participating in the same bad behavior? Employees need to know there are consequences for unsavory actions and that their reporting of questionable conduct will lead to real change.
Regular Ethics Appraisals
Conducting regular appraisals of team ethics ensures your team members understand your desire to run an ethical company. Consider yearly anonymous surveys as a means of tracking overall sentiment towards your company’s business ethics.
Make sure every member of your team is held to the same standard of ethical behavior. If upper management is allowed to engage in questionable behaviors, how can you expect exemplary behavior from the rest of your employees? The acknowledgment of unacceptable ethics should be the same for the CEO as for the janitor.
Training standards need to be a crucial part of any business ethics policy. Formal training and a documented acknowledgement of company standards is imperative. Having each member of your team acknowledge in writing that they have been trained on and understand the company’s ethics policy can be crucial should you ever have to terminate an employee for unethical conduct.
Having a clearly stated business ethics policy can help protect your company against everything from fraud investigations to a forensic accounting investigation to ensure corporate governance. Whether attempting to protect your business against the occasional instance of office supply theft or guarding against bribery in securing supplier contracts, a company with a strong ethical compass is likely to inspire employee loyalty and customer confidence.
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