Ethics training for employees programs have to be carefully planned taking into consideration and setting standards for ethical behavior in the company and what the training is supposed to accomplish. Companies have to make ethical training mandatory for all employees setting a good example that no one is above the law. The ethics training should help the employees become familiar with the company's code of ethics, know more about decision making using ethical models. "Good ethical training provides training covering five basic aspects of ethical training, responsibility, respect, fairness, honesty and compassion. Compliance laws and other topics such as using internet, computers only for company related work and not misusing these resources, about work place romance etc. are an integral part of the training program" (Gordon, 2012).
The training has to supply information regarding reporting ethics violation to specific personnel and assure them that offenders will be punished harshly. This will reduce the employees from giving into temptation to violate ethical code of the business. The most successful ethics training programs are in house training programs as it helps boost employee morale. These training needs to be an ongoing continuous program and employees must be aware of the ethical code always. Training should be provided in areas such as keeping confidential information safe, how to take the right decisions when there is a conflict of interest and personal vs. business. When the ethics training for employees is carefully planned and executed, the employees will have a clear idea of the company's code of ethics as well as being intimidated with punishment techniques for those guilty of violations. Thus, ethics training for employees is an integral part of any training program provided to employees (Gordon, 2012).
Research has shown that official ethics and legal compliance programs can have a positive impact. "For example, the Ethics Resource Center's National Business Ethics Survey revealed that in organizations with all four program elements (standards, training, advice lines, and reporting systems) there was a greater likelihood (78 per cent) that employees would report observed misconduct to management. The likelihood of reporting declined with fewer program elements. Only half as many people in organizations with no formal program said that they would report misconduct to management" (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
Yet, developing an official program, by itself, does not promise effective ethics management. Not surprisingly, research has shown that actions speak louder than words. Employees must recognize that official policies go beyond just window dressing to stand for the real ethical culture of the company. "For example, the National Business Ethics Survey reports that when executives and supervisors emphasize ethics, keep promises, and model ethical conduct, misconduct is much lower than when employees perceive that the ethics walk is not consistent with the ethics talk. In another study formal program characteristics were found to be relatively unimportant compared with more informal cultural characteristics such as messages from leadership at both the executive and supervisory levels" (Trevino & Brown, 2004). Additionally, perceived ethics program follow through was found to be vital. Company's show follow through by working hard to identify rule violators, by following up on ethical concerns raised by workers, and by signifying uniformity between ethics and compliance policies and actual organizational practices. Additionally, the perception that ethics is in fact talked about in daily company activities and included into decision-making is thought to be important.
So, for official systems to influence conduct, they must be part of a bigger, coordinated cultural system that supports ethical conduct on a daily basis. Ethical culture provides casual systems, along with official systems, to support ethical behavior. For instance, research has found that ethics-related outcomes, like worker awareness of ethical issues, amount of observed misbehavior and eagerness to report misconduct, were much more positive to the degree that employees perceived that ethical conduct was rewarded and unethical conduct was punished in the company. In addition, a culture that demands absolute compliance to authority was found to be particularly destructive while a culture in which employees feel fairly treated was particularly helpful (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
How to Train Ethics
Employees should be trained on issues such as harassment, conflict resolution, diversity and workplace violence. A company code of ethics should be made regarding workplace email, whistleblowing, drug testing and occupational safety and health. In order to establish an ethics training program, it is important to first set standards for ethical behavior within the organization and determine what training will accomplish. Companies should outline goals for the training and produce documents to support it, such as a code of ethics. In order to be effective, the training must be mandatory for all employees. All members of an organization should participate, if leadership is exempt, it sends a clear message to employees that some people are exempt from the rules. Ethics training should include a copy of the organization's code of ethics, a discussion of relevant compliance laws, an ethical decision-making model, resources for help and role-playing scenarios. All employees should receive a copy of the code of ethics and should understand the underlying meaning. Strong ethics programs should cover five elements: responsibility, respect, fairness, honesty and compassion. A company's code of ethics should define these elements and set the appropriate behavioral standard (Tyler, 2011).
The overarching goal should be to generate a strong ethical culture supported by strong ethical leadership. Executive leaders must offer that makeup and ethical guidance, and they can do that best by connecting multiple formal and informal cultural systems. People should react positively to the kind of arrangement that aims to help them do the right thing. If management says that they want to do the right thing, employees should respond positively as long as they believe that management is genuine and they observe consistency between words and actions (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
Leaders are accountable for conveying culture in their companies, and the ethical measurement of organizational culture is no exception. "The most powerful mechanisms for embedding and reinforcing culture are: (1) what leaders pay attention to, measure, and control; (2) leader reactions to critical incidents and organizational crises; deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching by leaders; (3) criteria for allocation of rewards and status; and (4) criteria for recruitment, selection, promotion, retirement, and excommunication" (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
If leaders wish to construct a strong ethical culture, the first step is to comprehend the current environment. Because information frequently gets stuck at lower organizational levels, and executives are often protected from bad news, particularly if workers perceive that the company shoots the messenger. Executives need to use anonymous surveys, focus groups, and reporting lines in order to get a feel from what is really going on. Employees need to believe that the senior leaders really want to know, if they are to report truthfully on the current state of the ethical environment (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
Employees need apparent and dependable messages that ethics is vital to the business model. Most businesses send numerous messages about competition and financial performance, and these easily drown out other messages. In order to contend with this constant drumbeat about the short-term bottom line, the messages about ethical behavior must be just as strong or stronger and as frequent. "Simply telling people to do the right thing, is not enough. They must be prepared for the types of issues that arise in their particular business and position, and they must know what to do when ethics and the bottom line appear to be in conflict. Executives should tie ethics to the long-term success of the business by providing examples from their own experience or the experiences of other successful employees" (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
The reward system may be the single most important way to deliver a message about what behaviors are expected. People do what's rewarded, and they keep away from doing what's punished. When looking at this concept it is conceivable that in the short-term, it is probably not feasibly to reward on a short-term basis. Primarily, ethical behavior is basically expected, and people don't anticipate or want to be rewarded for doing their jobs the right way. But in the longer term, ethical behavior can be rewarded by encouraging and compensating people who are not only good at what they do, but who have also developed a reputation with customers, peers, subordinates, and managers as being of the highest honesty. The best way to hold workers responsible for ethical conduct is to include evaluation of it into performance management systems and to make this assessment a precise part of compensation and promotion decisions (Trevino & Brown, 2004).
Being a moral person who is characterized by honesty and fairness, treats people well, and makes ethical decisions is significant. But those fundamentals deal only with the ethical part of ethical leadership. To be ethical leaders, executives have to think about the…
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