What Is Ethical Behaviour? (With Importance And Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Ethical behaviour in the workplace can help maintain a healthy environment at work and improve employee productivity by raising their morale. Managers can encourage employees to display ethical behaviour by training them, rewarding good behaviour and setting a good example. If you are a professional, learning the meaning of ethical behaviour can help you understand how you can implement it in the workplace. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is ethical behaviour?', explore examples of workplace ethics, understand their importance in the workplace and share steps that can help you support ethics in an organisation.

What Is Ethical Behaviour In The Workplace?

Knowing the answer to 'What is ethical behaviour in the workplace?' can help you understand how employers expect employees to behave at work. Workplace ethics is a set of values, morals, principles, rules and regulations that guide employee behaviour in an organisation. While employers implement some of these rules and regulations, there are some general ethics that employers expect employees to follow, even if they may not document it.

Some workplace ethics include professionalism, punctuality, integrity, respect, honesty, trust, tolerance, adaptability and discipline. All these behaviours have an important role in employee productivity and help maintain a respectful and healthy environment at work.

Examples Of Ethical Behaviour In The Workplace

Here are some examples of ethics that employees can follow in the workplace:

Accountability

Accountability can help build trust in the workplace and ensure employees take ownership of their work. It can lead to increased commitment to their duties, completion of tasks before deadlines and an increase in employee morale. Accountability in the workplace increases the sense of responsibility among employees, improves transparency and also helps improve overall team performance.

Honesty

Honesty ensures there is transparency within the workforce regarding the common goals. It helps build trust between employees and senior management. This work ethic helps employers ensure the employees trust the leadership of the company. By being honest with employees, employers can help increase the sense of loyalty and belongingness towards their company. It is also important to be honest with customers and clients, as it shows them that the company has their best interests in mind while working with them and foster positive public relations.

Professionalism

Being professional in the workplace helps employees create a good impression on one another, build lasting interpersonal relationships at work and foster a healthy work environment. It can help create a good impression on clients and represent the company professionally. Professionalism includes the ability to communicate effectively, carry oneself composedly and stay calm during difficult situations.

Related: An In-Depth Guide To Professionalism

Mutual respect

Mutual respect is one of the most important components of a healthy and constructive work environment. It helps improve communication among employees, encourages teamwork, reduces misunderstandings and conflicts and improves productivity. Respect in the workplace helps employees feel accepted, appreciated and valued for their contributions to the company's growth. It improves their sense of loyalty towards the company.

Tolerance

Along with respect, tolerance helps create an environment where employees feel accepted and respected and share their preferences or opinions. It enables diverse teams to work with each other peacefully with minimal disagreements. It fosters teamwork, effective communication, understanding and trust among employees. The turnover rate is usually lower in workplaces that practise tolerance and have happier employees who feel loyal to the organisation.

Punctuality

By being on time for meetings and regular shifts, employees can show that they are reliable and trustworthy. It shows that they respect their own time and that of others. Employers may consider punctuality as a sign of professionalism and being punctual may create a good impression while representing a company in client meetings or gatherings.

Discipline

Discipline ensures that employees work according to the accepted standards of the organisation and abide by any rules or regulations that the employers create. This helps maintain order in the workplace and makes sure that employees contribute effectively to the organisation's objectives. When employees voluntarily maintain discipline in the workplace, it can indicate their commitment and trust in the company's leadership.

Integrity

Integrity ensures that employees behave according to morally accepted standards and take the correct recommended action in any situation. This helps the organisation build trust with its customers, clients, vendors, investors and other stakeholders. While hiring for leadership positions, employers look for candidates who can maintain their integrity even during difficult situations and always have the company's interests in mind.

Related: What Is Integrity? Definition And Examples

Why Is Ethics In The Workplace Important?

Ethics in the workplace helps build an environment where employees feel safe, respected and appreciated, which encourages them to make sincere efforts to help the company maintain operations and succeed. When an employee has positive feelings about their company, they are more likely to take ownership of their responsibilities and ensure their actions match the company's larger objectives. For example, they are less likely to indulge in activities that can put the company's reputation at risk.

Workplace ethics also ensure that employees conduct them in a manner that is acceptable workplace behaviour. This ensures that employers can invest more time in improving business operations and growth than in monitoring employees and their productivity. By maintaining ethics in the workplace, employers can also promote a positive impression of their company in the market and present themselves as an attractive and reliable organisation for employees.

How To Support Ethics In The Workplace

Here are some steps that employees can follow to improve ethics in the workplace:

1. Create a code of ethics

Employees can create an ethical environment in the workplace by following the code of ethics created by the business owner. These codes of ethics are principles that guide them to act in ways that are socially acceptable and beneficial for the growth of the company and all stakeholders. A code of ethics ensures employees are aware of the vision and company objectives and values. It can also help ensure that the employees create all plans, policies and procedures after considering the code of ethics.

Related: How To Develop A Code Of Professional Ethics (With Examples)

2. Learn about ethical behaviour

When employees are aware of the socially accepted behaviours in the workplace, they are more likely to behave accordingly. For this, it is important to ensure that department managers or human resource managers train employees about ethical behaviour. If you are a manager, you can create a handbook of the code of ethics and ensure every employee has a copy. Schedule regular ethics training workshops for teams from all departments. When new employees join the company, instruct all department heads to explain the code of ethics to them.

If the business owner implements any changes to the code of ethics, you can circulate a written announcement and also include it in the next training workshop. You can give situational examples and examples of ethical behaviour in the workplace. Consider showing examples of ethical breaches in other companies so that employees understand the code of conduct and ethical behaviour appropriate in a professional environment.

3. Assure your customers

A good way of supporting ethics in the workplace is by engaging with your customers and informing them about ethical practices that you follow. You can seek their feedback and understand how they want the company to improve ethically. A good way of doing this is by involving your entire team so that they can learn ethics before explaining them to the customer and can also understand what customers expect from the business.

4. Be a role model

Employees can improve ethics in their workplace by setting a good example for their co-workers. If your team members notice your honesty, integrity, respect for others and professionalism, it helps them identify acceptable workplace behaviour. By being an ethical person, even in adverse situations, you can also inspire the entire workforce to maintain their ethics in the workplace.

5. Acknowledge and reward ethical behaviour

Rewarding ethical behaviour can encourage employees to continue behaving ethically. They are more likely to continue their good behaviour, honesty, integrity and punctuality when the senior management acknowledges their efforts. If you are a manager and an employee handles an ethically challenging situation with integrity, it is important to reward them for it and reinforce the behaviour. Similarly, it is also important to take necessary steps when employees act unethically to show them it is unacceptable and their actions can have consequences.

6. Learn from previous mistakes

A good way of creating an ethical environment in the workplace is by learning from previous mistakes. This way you can avoid similar mistakes from repeating and also be careful when similar situations occur. During the regular training sessions, you can refer to the ethical mistakes of other organisations and case studies and try to understand what went wrong and how you and your team can avoid them.

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