3 PART STRATEGY FOR BETTER WORK ETHICS
“I’m tired.” “It’s too late.” “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Are common excuses almost every employee has resorted to at some point in order to avoid work. It’s natural to feel unmotivated sometimes and inevitably dish out such excuses to put work off. But it’s important to understand that one has to outwork competition in order to be successful and success is always a by-product of superior work ethics. Stephen King once said that “Talent is cheaper than table salt, but what separates an individual from a successful one is a lot of hard work”. While this is true, there are times when the motivation just doesn’t make the cut. But as the saying goes – discipline and ethics keep you going when motivation runs out. Despite obvious talent, successful people wouldn’t be where they are without having insane work ethics. Here’s a small tale about how important work ethics are and the lack of which can be consequential.
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire, and he told his boss of his plans to leave and live a more leisurely life with his wife. He would miss the paycheck, he could get by, but he needed to retire. The contractor was sorry to see such a good worker go, and he asked the carpenter to build just one more house as a personal favour. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career. When the carpenter finished his work, the contractor came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” the contractor said. “It is my gift to you. “The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.
So it is with people at work. People work every day often putting less than the best effort in their work. Oblivious to the fact that like the carpenter was building his own house, employees are actually building their own careers ad will have to live with it for the rest of their lives.
This sure would make people wish they did things much differently. We cannot go back. But our attitudes and the choices we make today build our “house” for tomorrow. Employers/ Bosses essentially become enablers of work ethics. They need to ensure supreme ethics at workplace. These reach far beyond employee loyalty and morale or the strength of a management team bond. As with all business initiatives, the ethical operation of a company is directly related to profitability in both the short and long term. It may sound like a herculean task but attaining superior work ethics in your organization. But there is a simple strategy that can help you achieve it. We’ve broken this down into 3 parts for better understanding:
PART 1: ESTABLISH A STRONG CODE OF CONDUCT:
Organizations need to have predefined rules and regulations regarding workplace ethics. These rules and regulations should be given to ALL employees together with their employment contract. Also having the rules written at strategic places at the workplace will also help remind people about the rules. People tend to unconsciously imbibe things they see every day. Thus it is important to establish rules and a strict code of conduct. Make a list of unethical behaviours and list the consequences for these behaviours. Ensure that they are placed alongside the rules at strategic places in the organization. That way, if anyone wants to ignore the rules despite seeing them, the fear of getting punished will stop him or her from going ahead. Also, it’s important to ensure swift disciplinary action in case these are breached. Some companies often cover up grave ethical breaches when the defaulters are high ranking members of the organization. Things like this should not be accommodated. Irrespective of who breaks the rules, there should be swift disciplinary action by the organization.
PART 2: CONDUCT VALUE-BASED TRAINING
It would be unrealistic to assume that all employees may only comply with the work ethics just because it is communicated to them. The best thing to do in this situation is to ensure that all the disciplinary policies are enshrined in the code of ethics are enforced accordingly. It also helps to organize value-based training seminars where you invite experts to educate employees and empower managers at every level with the right tools to engage their teams on the company’s values and expected behaviours. Managers should be encouraged to have regular discussions with their teams to keep values on everyone’s minds. Managers will need coaching on how to comfortably conduct values discussions with their teams.
It is incorrect to assume that employees possess the values that are the right fitment for the organization. Managers must remember that from the recruitment to appraisals, the internal branding must reflect in the company values. Managers must ensure that these are not just imbibed but team members must also be appreciated and recognized for demonstrating superior ethics.
PART 3: SET RIGHT WORKING ENVIRONMENT:
Actions always speak louder than words. If you want to get the best out of your employees in regards to improved work morals, you need to empower them from time to time. Ensure they have an open forum to speak about their challenges so they can avoid burnouts. It is often noticed that an employee who is facing burnout due to any of the following reasons, tends to compromise on work ethics as a coping mechanism.
- Late Night Out/Unpaid Overtime: Job markets are competitive and workplaces are demanding. Employees are laden with more workload than they can handle. Thus they end up working overtime or extra hours, often without any compensation. They miss out on leisure time and struggle to maintain a work-life balance. Managers/ bosses sometimes fail to acknowledge their efforts and sacrifice and begin treating over time as a normal working practice. This breeds resentment among employees and they often give half-hearted efforts.
- Verbal Harassment: It is becoming increasingly common for bosses/managers to turn to the usage of harsh language when employees make little mistakes. This often reduces or kills employee morale and productivity. Employers should always say kind words to their employees.
- Undue Pressure/ Unrealistic expectations: Deadlines are a great way to make sure the work gets done on time and instil great ethical code. However, when employees are placed under undue pressure, they end up trading quality for on-time delivery. An example of undue pressure will be giving an employee a 1-day deadline for a project that would normally take a week, this may prompt them to resort to unethical means to achieve results.
- Nepotism: This degenerate practice that breaches ethics and bars talent from flourishing is unfortunately prevalent in many organizations. For example, An employee who has been working hard for years while influencing company growth may get side-lined for a promotion because of another employee who is either a stooge or an apple polisher. Things like these reduce employee morale or even push talented employees to resign.
- Unfriendly Work Environment: One of the things that can kill productivity is a toxic workplace culture that is far from being friendly. This may be seen as a combination of toxic bosses, lack of recognition, nepotism and other conditions. An unfriendly environment usually is a breeding ground for various unethical behaviours under one roof.
While these may seem daunting, but it is important to remember that employee happiness is key! This can easily be achieved by simply appreciating the efforts employees put in to contribute to organizational success. One easy way to do that is by allowing not just manager but also peers to recognize each other on a social platform. This will greatly boost the morale of employees and will set an example to motivate others. Let’s Buzzz offers a great peer-to-peer recognition program that allows organizations to establish value-based behaviours that can be socially recognized across the organization and amongst peers as well.
Managers can also choose to reward employees for demonstrating such behaviour by awarding buzz points that can be redeemed against digital rewards. Get in touch for a demo or a free trial today.