Case study of unethical behavior in the workplace


  • Case: Abusive Workplace Behavior
  • 6 Ways to Prevent Unethical Behavior in the Workplace
  • Five Ways to Reduce Ethics and Compliance Risk
  • Case: Abusive Workplace Behavior

    Thomas Mahan October 17, The plot of good versus evil, good guys versus bad guys, or right versus wrong has played out in books and movies for ages. It is arguably the most common struggle at the center of narratives of all types. So it should be no surprise that the same struggle is prevalent in corporate environments under the umbrella of ethical or unethical behavior.

    Headlines frequently peddle allegations of unethical behavior in the workplace which can create public relations crises, operational distractions, financial liabilities and in some cases lead to the total collapse of organizations.

    Given the severe financial and reputational consequences of unethical behavior, and the mere allegations of unethical behavior, it is no surprise that organizational efforts to prevent, detect and respond to it are consistently scrutinized by stakeholders. The intense scrutiny makes it critical to understand the definition of ethics in the workplace, why ethics are important in the workplace, and the single most important thing organizations can do differently to encourage ethical behavior in the workplace.

    What is the definition of ethics in the workplace? Ethics in the workplace is defined as the moral code that guides the behavior of employees with respect to what is right and wrong in regard to conduct and decision making.

    The latter of the definition is often where individual employees struggle to act ethically. Why is ethical behavior in the workplace important? It is important to understand that ethical behavior in the workplace can stimulate positive employee behaviors that lead to organizational growth, just as unethical behavior in the workplace can inspire damaging headlines that lead to organizational demise.

    Simply put, organizational stakeholders that include individuals, groups and organizations of various types enter into a relationship with a business organization for that business to protect their interests in a specific way.

    A decision to act unethically, by the organization or a stakeholder, can strain the relationship and damage the reputation of the organization. The increased risk of reputational damage and harm from negative headlines is often the catalyst for organizations to promote and encourage ethical behavior and prevent and report unethical behavior. Furthermore, where many individuals are connected to social media with mobile technology, the risk that unethical behavior will cause reputational damage to an organization is arguably much greater that in decades past, as behavior is more easily recorded on video, captured in photos, shared online and propelled into headlines.

    However, there are benefits of ethical behavior in the workplace beyond the avoidance of reputational harm. An organization that is perceived to act ethically by employees can realize positive benefits and improved business outcomes. The perception of ethical behavior can increase employee performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, trust and organizational citizenship behaviors.

    Organizational citizenship behaviors include altruism, conscientiousness, civic virtue, sportsmanship and courtesy. What can organizations do to encourage ethical behavior in the workplace? The good news is that organizations can take steps to create a good narrative around their reputation by implementing measures that help ensure ethical conditions and perceptions of organizational support are present in the workplace. Many organizations implement reactive systems to report unethical behavior.

    However, the single most important thing organizations can do different to promote ethical behavior is to implement a proactive employee voice system and use voice of the employee tools to proactively give employees the capacity to be heard. Voice of the employee systems that effectively promote ethical behavior and encourage reporting unethical behavior meet five key criteria: Elegance: be easily understood, applicable to the entire organization and all employees and effectively diagnose issues Accessibility: be easy to use, widely promoted, accessible to all employees Correctness: be well-administered and include follow-up to complaints Responsiveness: be timely, be responsive, be used by management and show results Nonpunitiveness: be anonymous and be free of retaliation — managers and employees must be protected The challenge is that many organizations implement voice of the employee systems with good intentions, but the voice of the employee tools used are not effective.

    Voice of the employee tools, like interviews and surveys, that proactively seek to uncover and stop unethical behavior should be conducted: Using an Open-Ended Question: to ensure all possible issues are uncovered, voice of the employee efforts should focus on asking an open-ended question about awareness of compliance issues.

    Closed-ended questions do not provide the ability to uncover all possible issues or all details to understand issues. Externally: to ensure accuracy, the research should be conducted through an independent third-party to remove biases and remove barriers to employees feeling they can express their true perceptions related to unethical conduct in the workplace.

    Employees may not want to risk burning a bridge or disappointing a manager. When conducted externally, data is systematically collected and thoroughly reported. Third-party researchers can offer high-quality telephonic interviews and web interviews that capture in-depth qualitative responses in a systematic manner. In asking fewer open-ended questions, specifically following up to ask why the participant perceives unethical behavior, you obtain in-depth data and reveal the root causes of perceptions.

    Systematically: to track trends and progress, data should be systematically captured for use in subsequent data collection and analysis.

    External research uses a consistent question set, data collection technology and a dependable methodology to capture responses in a reliable system to facilitate future reporting and analyses. This information can then be analyzed to identify issues that might exist in specific employee segments, departments, job groups or even certain supervisors. The struggle between right and wrong amongst your stakeholders and the perception of good or evil about your organization are a constant.

    And the implications of a perceived ethical or unethical reputation could be helpful or harmful to your business. Your reputation is on the line and your employees provide valuable information when given a true voice. Connect With Us.

    Whether it is constructive dismissal or WSIB claims for mental distress, proper discipline is never seen as unethical, regardless of the impact on the affected employees. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

    Article content Another U. We apologize, but this video has failed to load. Try refreshing your browser, or Howard Levitt: When it comes to 'unethical' practices in the workplace, whoever has the best story wins Back to video What a difference a border makes.

    I can attest from my own experience that relatively few Canadian employees complain of employer conduct that is truly illegal or, as defined by the law, unethical. Is that a U. Or is the conduct cited in the survey actually illegal?

    Is the universe their college professors prepared them for colliding with the realities of a hierarchical workplace? And do Canadian labour laws protect employees from what they view to be predations, but that their managers consider proper discipline? Article content In our country, being instructed to act unethically leads inexorably to a right to resign and claim constructive dismissal.

    Most U. But what is far more important than the titular right to claim constructive dismissal and resign is the potency of such an allegation. I act for both employers and employees. This former spy came up with nothing but the employer nevertheless made allegations in its defence that were totally and obviously false. Whatever value the case might have been, it now is magnified. Article content Too often clients, and lawyers, forget one simple thing: Judges are people too.

    That is why the narrative of a case is its overwhelming determinant — the lawyer who creates the best narrative usually wins. Sometimes employers, like this one, to avoid liability on the facts, behave in such a way that is so offensive that not only will punitive or aggravated damages be awarded, but the judge is so offended that any credibility issue will be ruled against them.

    More On This Topic.

    For more information on this, see our resources on writing a code. See related blog post: Optimizing Risk Management Using Artificial Intelligence Your program will only make a difference if you begin by having an accurate picture of existing strengths and areas of vulnerability.

    Risk assessment should be the starting point of your internal efforts, followed by gap analysis and program assessment. Audit reports are also an essential piece of the puzzle. You can gather information in a variety of ways.

    Surveys internal or conducted by a third party provide the opportunity to gather information from a much larger group of your employees, to compare results and to analyze data by relevant subgroups i. Once you know your needs, you can put in place the resources to address them by establishing a robust ethics and compliance program.

    The good news is that such a program makes a difference. In essence, when a company commits resources to ethics, it makes a difference. Fewer employees feel pressured to break the rules and fewer misdeeds take place.

    When bad behavior does happen, employees tell management so the problem can be addressed internally. This strong foundation consists of several elements key elements: Written standards of ethical workplace conduct for more information on this, see our resources on writing a code. Training on the standards. Company resources that provide advice about ethics and compliance issues. A means to report potential violations confidentially or anonymously.

    Performance evaluations of ethical conduct. Systems to discipline violators. Chapter 8 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations also calls for oversight by the governing authority, high-level personnel with overall responsibility for the program, and individuals with operational responsibility for the program.

    But just having these elements is not enough. Your ethics and compliance program must be vital, integrated element of your work and the way you do it, ensuring that employees know how to and feel supported in their efforts to uphold ethics and compliance standards in their work.

    Thomas Mahan October 17, The plot of good versus evil, good guys versus bad guys, or right versus wrong has played out in books and movies for ages. It is arguably the most common struggle at the center of narratives of all types. So it should be no surprise that the same struggle is prevalent in corporate environments under the umbrella of ethical or unethical behavior. Headlines frequently peddle allegations of unethical behavior in the workplace which can create public relations crises, operational distractions, financial liabilities and in some cases lead to the total collapse of organizations.

    Given the severe financial and reputational consequences of unethical behavior, and the mere allegations of unethical behavior, it is no surprise that organizational efforts to prevent, detect and respond to it are consistently scrutinized by stakeholders.

    6 Ways to Prevent Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

    The intense scrutiny makes it critical to understand the definition of ethics in the workplace, why ethics are important in the workplace, and the single most important thing organizations can do differently to encourage ethical behavior in the workplace.

    What is the definition of ethics in the workplace? Ethics in the workplace is defined as the moral code that guides the behavior of employees with respect to what is right and wrong in regard to conduct and decision making.

    The latter of the definition is often where individual employees struggle to act ethically. Why is ethical behavior in the workplace important? It is important to understand that ethical behavior in the workplace can stimulate positive employee behaviors that lead to organizational growth, just as unethical behavior in the workplace can inspire damaging headlines that lead to organizational demise.

    Five Ways to Reduce Ethics and Compliance Risk

    Simply put, organizational stakeholders that include individuals, groups and organizations of various types enter into a relationship with a business organization for that business to protect their interests in a specific way. Identify common missteps and how to avoid them while unambiguously relating the consequences of ethical failings. Routinely provide refresher courses to your existing staff.

    Bring in guest speakers to help employees build problem-solving skills so that they can react appropriately to employee misconduct. Provide tools Consider implementing a reporting system that allows your employees to disclose conduct violations anonymously, and identify procedures for staff to request private meetings with supervisors responsible for ethics oversight.

    Be proactive According to the ACFE study previously mentioned, organizations that lacked anti-fraud controls suffered greater average losses—often twice as much—from ethics violations. Employ data monitoring Another effective way to prevent unethical behavior in the workplace is to establish management review boards to investigate possible violations to the code of conduct. Set up reporting hotlines or email accounts that are capable of capturing relevant details including corresponding documentation or the names of potential witnesses.

    Distribute responsibilities across employees and departments, creating a system of checks and balances that reduce the risk of unethical behavior.


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    • 07.08.2021 at 02:47
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    • 11.08.2021 at 03:59
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