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You may think there’s an unspoken rule of how people conduct themselves in the workplace – and you’d be right. However, in South Africa, with corruption and unfair practices seeping into every industry and level of society, ethics within an organisational culture can get a little “grey”. This is where strong values and leadership make all the difference. Fortunately, you can learn these values through short online courses.
Bizfluent defines ethics in the workplace as the moral guidelines that drive individual employees’ behaviour within the work setting. This behaviour is driven not just by the culture but by managers too. Executive Director of the Ethics Institute, Leon van Vuuren, told Fin24 that behaviour can change and, with it, an organisation’s culture. Here are five actions you can take now to start the process at your own business.
Abuse of power and authority can quickly degrade a company culture. While your senior management may not abuse their positions outright, subtle bending of the rules and being neutral can result in poor behaviour. This can later become corrupt behaviour, former secretary of the Victorian Department of Education and Training, Gill Callister, told The Mandarin. By outlining your culture and ensuring that everyone understands that they will be held accountable for their actions, you are setting the precedent for how your employees behave.
New employees at major companies are often provided with an outline of the organisation’s culture, values, and mission statement. However, it’s not just enough to hand your employees a document and then get back to business. According to Inc., successful CEOs and their management teams integrate their organisation’s core values into everything they do. This includes leading by example, teaching through orientation and training, recognising and rewarding behaviours that align with the company’s values, incorporating the values into performance reviews, and ensuring there is a consistent message of these values in both the internal and external communication.
The easiest way to get your employees to behave ethically – within your organisation as well as with your clients – is to make them aware of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. You can do this by developing ethical standards, says RMI Solutions, and distributing these to your employees via your organisation’s intranet, newsletter, or other communication channels.
By this, we mean treat your employees with dignity and respect. This is especially important for managers, who often set the tone for their team’s culture within the workplace. The Balance Careers lists the following behaviour as important to promote a good working environment built on ethics and fairness:
Make whistle-blowers feel safe. The South African Government has demonstrated that whistle-blowing is not a bad thing. In fact, Whistle Blowers cites The Protected Disclosures Amendment Act (Act 5 of 2017) as a means for you to protect your employees who report unscrupulous behaviour in the workplace. This is extremely important as many employees fear victimisation if they report misconduct, according to the Ethics Institute’s South African Business Ethics Survey (2019).
Are you interested in how the principles of ethics can help your organisation’s positive culture? We offer a short online microlearning course called Being of service to others (Organisational culture) that helps human resources professionals and managers understand the relationship between values, ethics, and culture, and apply these teachings to the concept of corporate ethics by analysing and formulating recommendations for an organisation’s ethical practices.
Contact us for more information on the short online courses we offer.