Workplace ethics refers to the way employees in an organization govern themselves and their overall work attitude, but it can also refer to the morality, or lack thereof, permeating a workplace.
The way a company operates and is perceived by both the public and competitors often comes down to the workplace ethics. A truly ethical workplace should model ethical behavior from the top down, and from the inside out. Workplace ethics are reflected in how organizations treat their suppliers and customers, how they interact with others, how they perform their tasks, and how they communicate both internally and externally.
The 8 central characteristics of strong employee work ethic are:
- Punctuality: completing projects when due, showing up on time, following break-time protocol, and informing supervisors of challenges in a timely manner are all efforts that respect the value of time in the workplace.
- Accountability:employees and employers alike should be held accountable in their work efforts, meaning they shoulder the responsibility for ongoing projects and take the blame for errors when necessary.
- Focus:in order to efficiently accomplish a task, an employee must remain focused and avoid the distractions of chatter, social media, technology, etc.
- Initiative:this is when an employee does something productive or useful to the company without being asked. Strong employees care not about ticking off items on a to-do list but doing what needs to be done for the betterment of the organization. Showing initiative in work efforts indicates to management that an employee values success.
- Productivity:productivity hinges upon an employee’s ability to overcome distractions, ignore external influences, and conquering obstacles that inhibit them from performing their task.
- Professionalism:being present in their work culture, employees who exhibit professionalism show up and take their work seriously, staying respectful of others and dressing appropriately.
- Dedication:dedication means consistency and showing up ready to accomplish tasks daily, all while maintaining focus and productivity.
- Desire to Improve:employees who embrace feedback and learning moments show that they are willing to work to grow in their careers.
Some of the most common examples of workplace ethical lapses fall under the following categories:
- Preferential Treatment. Employees who receive special treatment at work, whether from patronage, friendship, or sexual and/or romantic relationships, are privy to unfair and unethical favoritism, which should be reported by fellow employees.
- Gossiping. Spreading untrue rumors about colleagues, company projects and plans, or anything else related to work culture is both unethical and indicative that an employee cannot be trusted when it comes to discretion and privacy.
- Dishonesty. This can manifest in several different ways, though common ones include taking credit for other people’s work or misleading information about progress on a project. Dishonesty comes in many different forms and is another trait that can derail an employee’s career no matter how small or harmless it may seem in the moment.
- Selfishness. Thinking only of your own interests, even in seemingly insignificant situations such as hoarding office supplies, leaving dishes unwashed in the kitchen, not remaking coffee or refilling the printer paper, is not a behavior conducive to cooperation, and is likely to be considered inconsiderate or even unethical by coworkers.