As the country reels from several business scandals of the past few years, the idea of training employees in business ethics is gaining traction.
The idea is to help staffers and managers examine their own ethics and come up with approaches for handling the occasional “sticky wicket” on the job.
Yet to really get your firm to develop a culture that aims to do the right thing in business, ethics training should be more than a one-off session. Ethics training should be an ongoing process and can morph into something of a guide and mindset for all your employees.
An ethical company becomes so through its leadership, standards and mores. Your firm’s managers, supervisors and executives must lead the way in ethical actions. Your company should have a culture of honesty, evenhandedness and easy communication between departments and between management levels (from line workers on up to the executive suites).
To make ethics training effective, a firm should be willing to commit the time, effort and monetary resources. Many companies have yet to do so, but more and more are starting to see the wisdom of ethics training on the job, as it can help companies avoid criminal investigations and fines. The majority of companies see the long-term value of ethics training, but currently are not willing to make the investment. Ethics training also will help workers become more open to good business practices, eventually having a positive impact on your firm’s entire culture.
An important note: if your company does engage in ethics training, you can expect an uptick in the number of ethics “violations” reported due to employees’ heightened awareness. Understand also that there can be a delay between when employees become sensitive to ethical actions and when they actually change behavior.
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