When a company has a set of staff that upholds integrity and diligence as their watchwords, achieving and sustaining its credibility and goodwill in the corporate space become less difficult.
That’s because unethical behavior at any level of management or a company’s organizational structure can puncture a company’s credibility. Unfortunately, when that happens, it can result in the loss of employees, clients, and business– and probably, the most dreaded of all— closure of the company.
So the challenging question managers are faced with is how to solve unethical issues at the workplace?
But in solving unethical issues, you must first know what Unethical behaviors look like in a workplace. That way, you’d be able to address them with practical solutions since you can identify them. You can only solve a problem(s) that you’ve identified– the first step of every scientific procedure to solving a problem.
That said, it’s important to note that Unethical behavior can speedily turn a once good company into a bad one by simply making the work environment toxic.
Study Smarter observed in a post that “Ethical issues can have a significant impact on a company’s brand image, consumers and employees.”
Examples of Unethical behaviors include:
Unethical behaviors are actions that violate an organization’s predetermined set rules, regulations and code of conduct. Below are some examples:
- Poor treatment of workers or colleagues
- Intimidation or bullying amongst workers or/and managers and workers
- Lack of professional accountability and responsibility
- Favoritism or Nepotism
- Harassments of any kind
- Use of inappropriate or rude remarks
- Lateness to work
- Inappropriate dressing
- Poor hygiene of workers within the workspace
- Taking office supplies and stationeries home, that is, Petty thievery.
- Misusing time
- Lying to employees
- Data breaching
How to solve unethical issues at the workplace: 5 Practical ways
#1. Draw the lines between dos and don’ts
Recall the saying, “Where there’s no law… there’s no sin.” That’s anything goes in such an environment.
But for every manager that wants to address unethical issues in his company’s workspace, creating a comprehensive code of conduct is a good start.
Because that way, the dos, and don’ts of workers and top management officers are all spelled out, covering a whole lot of things. From policies about lateness to work and meetings, dress code, to interpersonal communication amongst staff.
#2. Follow the Standard You’ve Set
It’s one thing for business managers or leaders to set standards as a code of conduct, and it’s another thing for them to lead by example. Leadership guru John Maxwell once said, “A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
That holds practical relevance in the corporate world, especially in influencing employees to act right as a business manager. Imagine that part of the code of conduct of your organization is that during working hours, workers are prohibited from pressing their phones or hopping from one social media account to another.
As a team lead or business manager, what impression or influence will you make on your subordinates when you’re constantly pressing your phone during working hours?
Not-too-good impression, right? Unfortunately, that’s what is obtainable in most organizations. Most managers have immunity to probable consequences for violating one or two bits of a company’s code of conduct, even though that could lead to unhealthy behaviors among workers in a workplace.
Well, that’s just an example. As an employer, if you want to encourage transparent communication among your employees or workers, you would have to shun lying to them.
#3. Employ Reward Accordingly
As said already, as a manager, it’s crucial to adequately educate your workers on your company’s dos and don’t. But to ensure that ethical behaviors are continuously portrayed in your business organization, you must enforce stability and discipline.
And to that, you employ reinforcement strategies for both positive and negative behaviors. When an employee works well and ethically toward the company advancement, reward them accordingly. Some of these rewards may come as a bonus, leave, increase in salary, promotion, or any other positive reinforcement that best serves the needs of your firm or entity.
On the other hand, when a worker or group of employees act unethically, managers are expected to adopt negative reinforcement to deter them from repeating such subsequently. A typical example is serving a query letter to an employee whose work performance has been low as a warning sign– and telling him that improvement.
But if that continues for a long time, every manager may be left with no other option than to lay such a worker off.
#4. Set a formidable system and mechanism for checks and balances
According to one of the principles of organization in management, work and workers should be departmentalized by their work specialty or specialization. That way, the unique, interdependent roles of worker(s) can be linked towards achieving the overall business goal of a firm.
For example, in a well-structured company, the sales department ensures that a company’s turnover goes up. Yet they would have to hand over necessary documents relating to sales to the accounting department to prepare excellent financial records to capture a company’s overall business performance. And in the end, the audit department checks the trueness and fairness of the financial statements prepared by the accounting unit.
You can see checks and balances in play. The accounting unit checks the data provided by the sales department, while the audit unit verifies the data provided by the accounting department.
#5. Organize seminar-workshop
As a manager, you can organize events or programs to help your workers get better on their jobs, even as they learn to be more ethical. You can get a specialist on ethics to regularly explain the significance of keeping ethical conduct in the organization, regardless of size or industry.
Beyond that, these seminars should provide the necessary support for workers to stay motivated and fresh in the work environment.
How to Prevent Ethical Issues in the Workplace
If you want a single-statement answer to this question, it would be to maintain ethical behaviors and never condone unethical behaviors. However, the tips below can help preclude your organization from getting into financial or legal trouble as a result of unethical issues:
1. Don’t Expect too much
The root cause of some of the unethical behaviors put up by employees can be traced to extremely high expectations from their employers. That’s why, as a business manager, you should be careful not to put too much pressure on your workers by setting unrealistic goals for them. Be it daily, weekly, or monthly.
2. Adopt Empathy
Managers should try to feel what their workers are feeling by putting themselves in their shoes. That way, they become considerate in their leadership approach and make them feel valued. And a company that can create such a feeling in its employees can easily earn their loyalty.
3. Get rid of micromanagement
Give workers a sense of belonging by allowing them to use their initiative toward the advancement of the company. Sadly micromanagers find it difficult to do.
4. Avoid playing the blame cards
Create a work culture that supports constructive feedback. So as a manager, instead of blaming your workers, you should constructively use feedback. For example, if a particular employee makes a mistake at work, you should bring his attention to the error made and suggest ways he can do it better afterwards.
Though that may sound easy to say, the gravity and impact of the mistake on the company’s finance, reputation, or business will determine the suitable actions a manager should take in such a situation. However, feedback must be constructive. That also applies to workers.
Rather than encouraging them to push blame on one another, encourage them to focus on solutions than dwell on problems.
5. Give necessary support
Often, what most employees need is support to be their best, even in the performance of their job or responsibilities. Be it technical, moral, technological, or any other support they need for peak performance at work.
Final Thought: How to Solve Unethical Issues in the Workplace
In a workplace, there are tons of ethical and unethical behaviors. But as a business manager interested in realizing your company’s business objectives, applying the practical tips in this blog post is paramount.