Individuals and organizations abide by behavioral standards known as ethics, or commonly referred to as a code of conduct policy. Studies have proven that companies who build a solid integrity program have the opportunity to outperform their competition. Employee conduct is often disregarded or swept under the rug because it is an uncomfortable subject within many organizations, but a recent shift toward workplace responsibility has created a strong need for learning programs that educate employees on ethics.
In order to build an ethical workplace, organizations need to proactively encourage regular conversation and trainings about what integrity and ethics mean specifically within their organization. This is a topic that needs to be covered during initial employee onboarding as well as throughout the duration of an employee’s career. Organizations cannot assume that their employees know what’s right from wrong, as every individual and every business each have their own personal standards of conduct.
When creating your code of conduct and ethics training, take these ideas into account:
- Have real programs in place, with real instructors.
- Use real-life examples through storytelling.
- Ask For feedback.
- The message must come from the leaders of the organization.
Establish a strong code of conduct throughout your organization.
Abiding by a strong code of conduct in the workplace is vital for creating an equitable work environment. Your company ethics should tie into your broader mission and vision, and employees who follow your code of conduct should feel comfortable with its relation to their work. Ethics and code of conduct training must have the ability to empower employees to understand what is right and wrong both for themselves as an individual and for the organization as a whole. Training for ethics and conduct should guide employees through your organization’s mission and values, along with situations that may arise during regular day-to-day operation. By using real-life examples and best practices, employees will gain further knowledge about the organization as well as internal and external resources for support on these situations.
There are several things L&D professionals need to take into consideration when reviewing ethics training in the workplace. We have learners who need to be educated efficiently, organizations that employ learners to abide by a code of conduct, and colleagues who will go through the learning and development together. L&D professionals have a central role to deliver development programs that encourages employees to consider the ethical dimensions of their behaviors and how it aligns with that of the organization. By encouraging employees to consider ethical ramifications of their decisions, this type of training is essential for minimizing risk and maximizing the strength of your company culture and values.
Utilize storytelling as a method for code of conduct training.
Now that most companies are over 1 year into a remote work environment, it is more necessary than ever to remind your teams just how important ethics and conduct are to an organization. As we mentioned in our most recent blog on storytelling, this method has been proven to be successful to deliver ethics and code of conduct training by using real-life examples and stories to clearly articulate the message you want to convey to your employees. Utilizing storytelling can bring your code of conduct training to life, as training based on realistic scenarios is more likely to engage employees. To be effective, the learning process needs to fit within realistic experiences and be practical and applicable to the lives of the employees.
By linking the training program to real life experiences, employees are able to relate and identify with the characters and situations through the use of storytelling, even if they have not directly experienced the ethical issues being discussed. Applying storytelling also gives organizations an opportunity to elicit feedback from employees about their own ethical situations, which can be worked into subsequent training programs. Following the sessions, conducting post-training feedback surveys can help you find what employees found most impactful, and where the training needs improvement.
It’s ethical to lead by example.
Another key to successful code of conduct and ethics training is trust. A reputation for being a trustworthy place to work is a highly valuable branding advantage for your organization. Not only will it provide effective and efficient working relationships, but it also makes an organization more attractive to top talent, prospective and current clients, vendors, etc.
The importance of leadership cannot be undervalued when it comes to influencing the behaviors of your employees. The culture of an organization must be led from the top down, whether that is considered to be senior management or team leads. Leaders who have an open-door policy and consistently talk about ethical issues inspire teams to openly communicate and behave in ways that benefit the team as a whole. Management and employees on a management track need to be trained to develop skills that foster ethical sensitivity and acumen. These leaders must understand the relevance of equality, openness, transparency, integrity, and accountability of others, including recognizing the conflicts of interest throughout an organization. Leaders and management often touch all facets of an organization, which can be key in creating a unified workplace with a strong culture for success.
Competence and ethics go hand-in-hand, and an organization’s ability to acknowledge and resolve ethical situations is vital to remain effective and build trust throughout your workforce. When employees are better prepared for ethical dilemmas that could potentially arise in the workplace, the organization is run more efficiently, and employees have more confidence in the organization as a whole. Trust will not only deepen for the employer, but also for fellow colleagues, partners, and customers as well.