Workplace conduct

Good “Workplace conduct” is acting in ways consistent with what society and individuals typically think are good values. Ethical behavior tends to be good for business and involves demonstrating respect for key moral principles that include honesty, fairness, equality, dignity, diversity and individual rights.

Good ethical conduct in the workplace indicates that employees take pride in their company’s ethical standards and have respect for other employees, customers, suppliers and partners. Typically, a model for professional conduct consists of a set of rules that prescribe a baseline of legal ethics and professional responsibilities. At a minimum, companies usually expect employees to comply with applicable local laws and government regulations.

Model employees adhere to the company’s code of conduct, which reflects the company’s values. For example, employees do not discriminate against other people based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or national origin. Harassment of any kind is not tolerated, and violations can lead to termination. Employees reject business gifts that may create the appearance of impropriety or unfair influence and conflict of interest.

Employees who respect their organization and coworkers tend to avoid padding expense accounts, taking office supplies home, using excessive sick time, using office machines for personal use or leaving personal belongings in work areas or common spaces. Lost time, supplies, equipment and productivity result in lower company profits. Employees who exemplify a model ethical code of conduct in the workplace treat other people and company property with respect to ensure the reputation of their company remains intact. People who act with integrity create an atmosphere of fairness and equality where job satisfaction is high, employee turnover is low and absenteeism is negligible.

Companies that do not tolerate questionable business practices typically have higher employee retention rates. Successful leaders demand that employees maintain high standards of ethical conduct in the workplace and do not blame others for missed deadlines, poor decisions or bad results. Managers resist the temptation to pad budgets in anticipation of cutbacks. Employees avoid compromising too much to win a customer’s sale, gain support for a controversial project or avoid a conflict on a volatile issues. Risks need to be discussed and handled responsibly to benefit all employees.

An effective leader ensures her subordinates get the training they need to exemplify model ethical conduct in the workplace. By running workshops and seminars, companies provide opportunities for their staff to examine case studies and common moral dilemmas. For example, employees are asked to treat company money as their own money. They reflect on if their decisions could result in controversy before choosing an option or alternative in problem solving. They are also asked how they would feel if news of their actions were to be published in the local newspaper. Anytime an action might result in anxiety, employees need to seek guidance before making such a decision.