Water Well Journal

September 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: https://read.dmtmag.com/i/557876

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Page 47 of 71

E thics—the values an organization demonstrates in its goals, policies, and practices—are the heart of any workplace culture. The quality of a company's experi- ence depends on the quality of its culture. Whether we are employees, customers, or clients—a positive culture enlivens and enriches our experience. A negative one diminishes it. Ethics in the workplace is vital, even to small business owners. No company wants to be known as unethical. A busi- ness' employees are more apt to display higher morale and more productivity when they know they are working for a morally sound company. It's important to create a conscien- tious workplace that is transparent both to the employees as well as the general public. Small business owners should never tolerate inappropriate behavior in an employee. To do so, employees should be properly trained in what is considered unethical. Being Clear Employers should make sure their policies and practices clearly convey to employees and supervisors the type of conduct that is strictly prohibited. Here is a short list of prohibited con- duct. Violence and fighting. Verbal abuse. Theft. Possessing or using illegal drugs in the workplace. Inappropriate use of the Internet, email, voicemail, or other forms of electronic communica- tion. Sleeping and loafing on the job. Gambling at work. Workplace bullying and harassment. These types of activities can have a detrimental effect on the business as well as employee productivity and morale. Employers should make sure employees and supervisors clearly un- derstand the parameters of prohibited conduct and let them know the discipli- nary consequences. Defining Policy The policies regarding prohibited conduct should be clearly defined so employees and supervisors are well aware of what the employer expects. Further, all employees and supervisors should be instructed to report any pro- hibited conduct by coworkers or super- visors and bring it to the employer's attention so corrective measures can be taken. It is important for employers to de- velop a code of conduct—also called a code of business conduct or code of ethics—which applies to all employees. Codes of conduct encourage ethical conduct and a commitment to compli- ance with the law by defining standards of behavior expected of workers. Create a policy dealing with ethics. Company policy should state your expectations for your employees as well as outline what is and what is not considered acceptable. Having a clearly written policy will help you take action should an employee act unethically. The policy should be contained in the company's employee handbook that spells out workplace rules, policies, and proce- dures that set expectations for employee conduct. Handbooks should be written in sim- ple language, kept up-to-date, modified to reflect variations among different employees, and distributed to all employees. There are a variety of different workplace rules, policies, and procedures that should be included in an employee handbook. Airing Complaints Employers should plan for potential conflicts of interest among employees, customers, and clients. In doing so, em- ployers should develop confidentiality, ethics, and whistleblowing policies. Allow employees to report unethical behavior in a safe environment. No one enjoys ratting out a fellow employee, particularly if it will be made known who turned the person in. Give your em- ployees a safe and anonymous way to air their complaints so you can investi- gate the act and take action if necessary. Addressing Behaviors Employees will inevitably form per- sonal relationships in the workplace. While not illegal, personal relationships can be problematic and give rise to employer liability. As such, employers should establish work rules to see to it all employees adhere to the same stan- dards and engage in appropriate conduct at work. Personal relationships should be addressed by work rules ranging from dating and romantic relationships among coworkers to employing family members as coworkers. Employers should also establish work rules and policies regarding em- ployees' personal activities—such as having visitors in the workplace, cele- brating birthdays and other milestones at work, requiring appropriate conduct at work functions and parties, and using employer time or equipment for personal reasons. ALEXANDRA WALSH CREATING THE ETHICAL WORKPLACE A positive culture is necessary for business success. PEOPLE AT WORK Having a clearly written policy will help you take action should an employee act unethically. waterwelljournal.com 46 September 2015 WWJ

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