How Managers Can Create An Environment That Promotes Ethical Behavior

As a manager, creating an ethical environment for your employees is essential for promoting positive behavior. By creating an environment that promotes integrity and accountability, managers can help foster an ethical work culture. This can be done by setting clear expectations, establishing standards of conduct, and monitoring employee behavior. But what does that look like in practice? And how can you be sure that you’re doing everything possible to encourage integrity in the workplace?

Read on for tips on establishing an ethical culture and setting an example yourself.

1. Role Model Ethical Behavior

For a manager, being a role model in terms of ethical behavior is critical. Employees will use their managers as a basis for how to behave in the workplace. Therefore, you should always be aware that your actions can have a large impact on the workplace environment and culture.  

This doesn’t mean that every action needs to be scrutinized by employees; however, it does suggest that you should avoid taking actions that could undermine your responsibilities as a manager or put you in conflict with company policies.

2. Establish Clear Expectations And Standards Of Conduct

As a manager, one of your most important responsibilities will be establishing an ethical culture for the organization. Part of this process involves communicating what types of behaviors are expected from employees and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Setting clear standards could help prevent employees from engaging in unethical behaviors for fear of getting caught.

3. Use Performance Evaluations To Provide Feedback

Give specific examples of how an individual’s conduct might or has affected the company and its stakeholders, both positively and negatively. Providing constructive criticism is not only helpful but necessary in order to communicate standards effectively. Feedback can also reinforce expectations by allowing employees to understand why their actions are encouraged or discouraged—giving them the ability to make informed future decisions about whether they should act accordingly or not.

4. Promote A Sense Of Trust And Shared Interests

Create a strong foundation for teamwork by establishing a culture in which all employees trust each other and believe that they share a common purpose. This can be done through regular, honest communication with employees about issues such as company goals and values.

Work to establish an environment where people collaborate frequently over projects, rather than work independently on their own tasks. In this type of environment, employees may be more likely to raise red flags concerning any unethical decisions or actions that take place within the organization.

5. Encourage Reporting Of Unethical Behavior

Many organizations establish reporting methods so that employees can report ethical concerns or violations at any time— not just when they observe their actions firsthand.  This process is called whistle-blowing, and it encourages employees to speak out about what they see inside their organization.

This process should be kept confidential and employees should be protected by the company for their actions. By reporting unethical behavior, an employee could receive a reward or promotion as a thank you for pointing out something that should have been addressed sooner rather than later.

6. Make Ethics Training Mandatory

Many businesses include ethics training as part of their onboarding process so that employees are fully aware of the company’s values and ethical standards. This helps establish a culture in which ethical behavior is expected, rather than discouraged or ignored altogether. Training and coaching employees can make them aware of the company’s policies and guidelines for ethical behavior.

7. Consider The Use Of Internal Audits

External auditors can assess an organization’s ethical behavior and determine whether it is by industry standards. An anonymous reporting system allows employees to disclose questions, concerns, or complaints without revealing their identity—thereby potentially encouraging future whistleblowers to come forward.  Both options allow your organization to take corrective actions that prevent unethical practices from occurring or continuing in the future.

It is evident that promoting ethical behavior in the workplace is important for maintaining a positive company culture. Managers can promote whistle-blowing, encourage employees to report unethical behavior, and provide ethics training to help employees make sound decisions. By creating an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up about any unethical activity they may encounter, organizations can work together to maintain high standards of integrity. This will lead the business to success and create a high employee turnover.