What are Workplace Ethics?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Workplace ethics are codes of conduct that influence the development of an ethical culture within the workplace. Going beyond what is considered legal in the area where the business operates, they inspire communication between employees, allow for respect to be extended to each person within the organization, and promote customer relationships that are based on honesty and integrity. While there are core elements that tend to define a work-based code of ethics, the specific expressions of these central values vary from one corporate setting to the next.

It is important to remember that workplace ethics are shaped by two important factors. First, workplace policy must be in harmony with all laws and regulations that are currently in force in the jurisdiction where the business operates. This helps to ensure that basic ethics preclude any pressure or coercion to engage in actions that are considered to be illegal, promote discrimination in the workplace, support unfair hiring and firing practices, or allow wages to be set that are below the minimum legal standards for the area.


Along with being shaped by laws and regulations, workplace ethics are also influenced by business ethics For example, ethical business practices would include actions such as not using marketing materials or campaigns that mislead consumers. Workplace ethics would also involve establishing and operating support networks such as wellness programs that help employees be healthy and happy. Ethics of this type would also involve the conscious effort to cultivate a working environment where people want to come to work and be productive because of pride in what they do for a living.

While businesses tend to comply with laws and regulations set by local jurisdictions, not every company sees the need to develop workplace ethics that affirm the worth of employees and motivate them to be productive on the job. When a company chooses to do no more than what is required by local law, the chances of heavy employee turnover are much higher. In addition, it is easier for cliques to develop among certain groups of employees, a state that can often undermine productivity and cost the company a great deal in terms of time and revenue generation.

One of the tasks many business consultants face is helping clients assess the status of workplace ethics in their offices and manufacturing facilities, and then find ways to expand and enhance those ethics at all levels of the operation. Often, consultants can spot problems that are not immediately noticeable to managers and business owners, simply because the problems developed incrementally over an extended period of time. However, once the issues are identified and resolved, chances are the company will be stronger and the employees will be significantly happier.


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Post 2

Some companies use an "Iron Triangle" to shift the blame for shortcomings or blatant disobedience of laws. This means that when one leader is called into account for such a mistake or crime, he or she is able to shift the blame by pleading ignorance, and it is assumed that there was a lack of communication, etc. Such a practice is disturbingly common.

Post 1

It is unfortunate that many businesses are willing to push the line in terms of broaching integrity for the sake of a competitive edge. Although ethics might be a hindrance in the short term, I think that they make for a much better work environment and long-term success and reliability.

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