Ethics can be defined as a set of moral principles or rules of conduct that provide guidance for our behaviour when it affects others. On the other hand, unethical behaviour would mean acting in contrary to these moral principles or rules when dealing with others.
Why Ethics Matters
It is important for professionals to uphold ethical behaviour regardless of the industry they operate – in banking and finance, manufacturing, communication, investment, healthcare and so on. Ethics and good code of conduct should be prioritised when dealing with people at workplace whether internally with colleagues or externally with customers or other stakeholders. Unethical behaviours in workplace by individuals have serious personal consequences – ranging from job loss and reputational damage to fine and even jail; it can also lead to loss of business, money, resources and even death in the extreme case.
Causes of unethical behaviour
Pecuniary interest: Money, they say, is the root of all evil. One of the major reasons professionals and individuals cut corners in workplace is when they know that customers that they show undue advantage would reward them monetarily. Get-rich syndrome has become the order of the day in our society. Young professionals that have barely spent five years post graduation want to drive exotic cars and live in highbrow areas that are meant for chief executive officers and rich men.
Conflict of interest: Another reason employees behave unethically is to please the employer at the expense of the customers. Some professionals want to stand out among the entire workforce either for self-gratification or to show the boss that they are high-flyers.
Lack of policies and standard operational manual: Some organisations do not have policy documents, rule books and standard operational manual that should guide the overall operations of the running of the business – either dealing internally or externally. Employees in these types of firms can take advantage of the circumstances of the company to perpetrate their unethical behaviour.
Ways to prevent unethical behaviour
Good remuneration: There should be a remuneration structure that matches the experience and qualifications of employees. Some human resource departments in some organisations are fond of underpaying their staff; they believe they are saving cost for the company and performing well on the job.
Provision of policies and rule book: Organisations should have policies documents that cut across all the departments; a course or principle of action adopted by the organisation. These documents specify what is acceptable and what is not in dealing with colleagues or clients. This should be part of the on-boarding process of all employees from the most junior to the most senior recruits.
Sanction: Organisations should have a system of sanction for any employee found with unethical behaviour; this can serve as deterrent for others within the workforce
In summary, many companies have folded up because of unethical behaviour of some individuals – Enron scandal was a popular case. It is also safe to say that some companies have been growing in leaps and bounds because of the ethical behaviour and good code of conduct they practise.