Business ethics seem like some fancy words that get tossed around on occasion but you don’t think they really apply to you. But the fact of the matter is they help shape a brand in many ways, and, as an employee of that company, it’s your job to adhere to them. Just think, one slip during your career can cost you your job, earn you a bad reputation throughout your industry and follow you for years down the road, so it’s critical to stay aware of these guidelines.
With multi-generational and multi-cultural workplaces now more the norm than the exception, it’s a good idea to create your own business ethics guidelines to review and practice throughout your time in the workplace. After all, you either adapt with the times or you fail, and the second option shouldn’t even be an option.
Discuss Business Ethics With Your Managers
You don’t have to lead an in-depth business ethics discussion with your staff, but, at some point during the year, ask your staff members to re-read the employee handbook and tell them you’ll be answering any questions at the next staff meeting.
Not only will this keep your managers on their toes, but it also lets everyone at your company know that you’re personally committed to ethical and professional behavior.
Identify Potential Business Ethics Issues
Start your business ethics “safety plan” by writing a list of scenarios where your personal ethics might have to come into play. These can include financial wrongdoing, gossip, harassment, deleting emails or shredding documents, denying a promotion for the wrong reasons, false advertising, personal use of company assets, improper computer access or lying to the media.
Write down any actual scenarios you’ve heard about or been involved in, then think about how you would handle those scenarios again. This will help you act quickly in the event you’re ever caught in a similar situation.
Either Follow The Rules Or Help Adapt Them For Updated Business Ethics
If you’re company has a “stupid” rule, don’t ignore it. Regardless of what it is or it’s importance, if you blow off one rule, coworkers may wonder what other rules you might be breaking. This can make others feel like you think you’re superior and above the rules the rest of the staff is following.
If you have a problem with a rule, bring it up with your immediate supervisor to gauge how he or she feels about it. There might be some past company history that resulted in this rule being included in the company guidelines, so you’ll get a better understanding of things after some explanation. You might also find that no one really likes this rule and no one knows why it’s in place to begin with, so the company might just change or eliminate it.
Business Ethics Should Always Include Eliminating Gossip
You don’t even need to open your mouth to get hurt by gossip, because, in some cases, you can get into trouble just listening to gossip.
When you hear someone else gossiping, remember that the gossip wants support. If a coworker can say, “Even Dave said Jenny screwed up,” then you’re part of the gossip. When Jenny finds out that someone has been spreading gossip about her, she’ll undoubtedly ask, “Who was there?” She’ll find out you laughed or reacted in some way, and, most importantly, that you didn’t tell her that someone was gossiping about her.
Sure, this can be a difficult situation — do you go to Jenny and rat out the person gossiping about her — but it’s best to avoid it at all costs so, if you’re included in it happening, learn how to beg out of gossip without taking sides.