The Good and the Bad of Modern Business Ethics
When was the last time you felt pressured to do something at work that you felt wasn’t right? The good news is that American workers are feeling less pressured to do the wrong thing than ever before. More employees who witness misconduct are also reporting what they see to their supervisors, while actual misconduct incidents is much lower than before as well. All in all, the modern American business is ethically better than it may have ever been? So why then are employees feeling like they can’t get a break at work?
Part of It Is the “Lean and Mean” Culture of Today
When the economic recession his the United States about 5 years ago, many businesses had to make major changes to their budgetary structures in order to just survive. Workers were willing to skip raises, take pay cuts, and even have their benefits cut in order to make sure they still had a job the next day. Now fast-forward to 2013 and many American workers haven’t seen a raise since 2008. Despite not getting a raise, they have to pay more in health insurance premiums and gasoline prices are more than a $1/gallon more than they were in 2008.
This means the average American worker in 2013 is making less money than the average worker did at the start of the recession.
Another Part of It Is the Actions of the Employer
Nearly half of all American employees feel like their employer changes the way they treat their employees when economic times grow worse. From programs that chart keystrokes to micro-management tendencies, the American worker feels smothered. Many businesses have fewer employees today but equal or higher workloads, meaning that more employees are taking work home with them as well.
Because work is being taken home, this often means that sensitive work materials are often on personal computers, tablets, or smartphones. Those who network socially tend to practice this more than those that don’t participate in online socialization activities – nearly half of all those who have active social networks find this practice to be acceptable instead of questionable.
What Can Be Done To Make Changes Without Decreasing Morale?
One of the biggest steps any business can take in reducing their risks of an ethics violation is to appoint an ethics leader. The responsibilities of the ethics leader is to make sure that the policies, procedures, and processes of an organization are incorporation modern best practices to make sure employees have a natural desire to be ethically responsible instead of a manufactured desire to do so.
Social networks can also be engaged to encourage discussions about ethics. A business forum is often a great place to complain about what goes on at work, but make it work for your business by engaging your employees and asking about their ideas. Chances are there’s someone out there who has a great idea and is just afraid to speak up.
Are you concerned about professional ethics? Doing the right thing isn’t always easy and there aren’t always rewards, but it does come with a sense of personal satisfaction. Do your best to encourage good personal ethics today and your own professional ethics risks will reduce as well.
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