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4 Ways to Improve How Employees Perceive Your Business Ethics

Posted by Sandy Yu on 1.31.2019

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Employees’ perceptions of business’ motivations and ethics are on a downhill slide, according to a recent Deloitte report. Unfortunately, respondents say what they believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities to be today just aren’t lining up.

Internal communicators are now tasked with changing these perceptions. While the transformation won’t happen overnight, they do have the power to make employees see organization’s positive business ethics.  

To do this effectively, though, internal communicators need the right mindset and strategy from the start. So, we turned to the experts. These internal communicators are changing how employees’ perceive their business ethics -- and you can too.

Here’s how:

1. Build trust through openness and transparency

Our employees are the ambassadors for our business. We educate them on what’s happening in our industry and discuss with them why it is so important that we have integrity even when others do not. The fact of the matter is, as the owner of the business, I won’t always be there when an employee is discussing what we do and why we do it.

Further, employees want to take pride in their work and for whom they work. No one can get behind a shady company with a myopic decision-making process.

We are also as transparent as possible. Our employees are smart and we respect their ability to think for themselves. We tell them the truth and trust they will agree with how we operate our business. 200x200 headshot

And, if they have an issue, they know our door is always open because we discuss ethical issues frequently and allow for an open dialogue. We want our employees to feel the sort of pride that we, the owners of the company, feel. We’ve had a lot of success with this and our ethical code has galvanized our team in many ways.

Jeff Rizzo, Founder and CEO of The Slumber Yard

2. Recognize positive business ethics actions

We pride ourselves on six core values that guide all of our business ethics, including having each other's back, being proud of your work, eliminating fear, making innovation a habit, making it human, and collaborating through communication.

When we first built these values, our staff played a huge role in determining the precise phrasing and description. This eliminated the need for buy-in because our staff created the core values and ethical standards themselves. 200x200 headshot (1)

We ensure our employees remain motivated by our business ethics by enabling them to not only live it, but also recognize one another for those ethics. For example, we acknowledge our core ethics during daily stand-up meetings and via monthly recognition whereby anonymous staff can recognize others for acting with strong business ethics.

Candice Frazer, Vice President of Marketing at TTI Success Insights

3. Pick and choose clients wisely

Survival and success are our top ethical duties, to ourselves and to our employees -- but we also consistently talk about our positive mission to effect the community and small businesses for the good. 200x200 headshot (2)

This sometimes means avoiding clients with questionable ethics. I try to make a point of asking our employees if they think there's an ethical issue with a particular client and dropping that prospect if there is one. By bringing the individuals’ ethics into the picture and making decisions with those in mind, it creates ownership throughout.

Tim Brown, Owner, Hook Agency

4. Show-off your results

Your employees will tell their friends about your business, share your updates to their social media, and will ultimately sing your praises when they leave if you treated them well. Employees will also be more likely to stay if they’re proud of your workplace.

The key is to make them view you as a positive influence -- someone who cares about everyone in the company and customers. To encourage this viewpoint, disperse internal publications that support a transparent environment. For example, an update on the fiscal year’s triumphs and (honest) failures and how you hope to improve in the future.

200x200 headshot (3)Make employees see that what the company does matters, and measure everything in the process. Proper research will show that you yield results, and if those results help customers fix a problem or improves their lives, put that in a piece of content directed specifically to your employees. They want to see how their work is helping others, and knowing that their labors are going to good is incredibly empowering for them.

Sierra Marling, Entrepreneur and PR Consultant

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Topics: employee engagement, employee communications, workplace communication

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