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How to make a difference in an unethical workplace.

Unethical behaviour in the workplace isn’t necessarily illegal, but it can have large consequences if it’s not addressed in the workplace. The larger impact is that a toxic environment can be created with the employees and business ultimately suffering as a result. Common unethical workplace behaviours include taking credibility for someone else’s work, calling in sick when you’re perfectly fine to work and taking added time on your break.

A study was conducted by the National Business Ethics Survey which discovered that of the people involved in the study, only 65% of those chose to report it to a higher authority.

Reasons that came up as to why they chose not to included fears it could damage their career, it would create an awkward atmosphere between the offender and themselves, they feel the allegation they made wouldn’t be taken seriously or they simply weren’t sure how to report it in the correct way.

For larger businesses, they would generally have a human resources department or manager that can be seen for reporting any concerns that colleagues may have. However, smaller businesses are likely to lack resource and HR support, making guidance for reporting behaviour more challenging.

So that colleagues can feel more comfortable with reporting unethical behaviour, there are steps that should be taken as a business owner or manager that can help to make a difference in an unethical workplace and change it for the better.

how to make a difference in an unethical workplace

Implement A Code Of Ethics

In order to make it clear how you wish your colleagues to act around the workplace, it’s worth implementing a code of ethics so the tone is set from the get-go. This helps to establish the boundaries and values of the organisation. These are normally evident in employee handbooks or company mission statements. The idea is to communicate the company’s ethical vision and expectation in a succinct manner. If you’re unsure how to write a code of ethics, there is plenty of support available through legal   who specialise in dispute resolution or HR experts who can help with making sure this is written correctly.

Provide Employees With Responsibility

Provide staff with the responsibility of knowing how to identify and handling unethical behaviour. How this can be achieved is by implementing training around behaviour in the workplace for both new and existing employees. There are many ethics courses that are available through written materials as well as online and live training. It’ll help towards implementing the effectiveness of the code of ethics.

Communicate The Process To Report Unethical Behaviour

Within your code of ethics, outline the process to report unethical behaviour. There are many methods in which reports can be made including hotlines, face to face meetings with relevant personnel or through an online form. It’s important to note that if there is a lack of HR resource within the organisation, the person tasked with dealing with the matter should be removed furthest from the concern and have the correct qualities. In doing so, it shows that the matter will be taken seriously and it will be dealt with fairly. It will also instil a feeling of trust for other employees, knowing that bias opinion wouldn’t affect the final result.

Review The Code Regularly

Last but not least, review the code on a regular basis to make sure it’s kept up to date. This way, no one is left out and consistent communication continues throughout the organisation. Copies of the code can be shared each year and a declaration can be provided for them to sign. This will show that employees are aware of what’s expected of them and they’ll act accordingly rather than take a sorry turn. A good leader reinforces code of ethics in a workplace and establishes a protocol to continuously promote positive guidelines.

Implementing these tips will help make a difference in an already difficult, unethical atmosphere. The guidelines will be clear for all to see and expectations will be simple for the employees to understand. As a result, there will be positive effects on the business and overall morale of the working environment.

Alice Porter

Written by: Alice Porter

Alice Porter works closely with the Dispute Resolution Lawyers to better inform people on how to create a more ethical and enjoyable work environment.

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