Sandra Bledsoe

What Is Business Ethics?

Business ethics refers to ethical standards all employees should maintain in a workplace. In some cases, ethical dilemmas arise, and companies need to address and resolve these issues peacefully and professionally. Ethics training involves educating employees and team leaders about how to deal with unethical situations at work.

Image via Unsplash by Alejandro Escamilla

Often gray zones exist when it comes to ethical and unethical practices. Implementing ethics training can help minimize the uncertainty and make it simpler for staff to work together to stop unethical behaviors. 

What Are Some of the Principals of Ethics?

Ethics training will focus on educating employees about the principles of ethics. These qualities may include honesty, respect, integrity, loyalty, justice, abiding by the law, and morality. Educating employees on these principles of ethics will help them understand acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Here is an article about business ethics that describes them in greater detail.

What Is Ethics Training?

In an Ethics training course, employees will discover what unethical workplace situations are and how to handle them best when they arise. Ethics training will highlight how to maintain a respectful working environment and how to protect individuals and the company from ethical violations. Ethics training will also include tips on managing a business fairly, avoiding conflicts of interest, and a refresher on the laws in your state that prohibit certain unethical behaviors.

What Is Unethical Behavior in the Workplace?

Many examples of unethical business practices can arise. Overall, unethical behavior refers to any conduct that is either prohibited or understood to be wrong, dishonest, or unfair. Here is an article about ethics in the workplace with more details.

Explore the following examples of unacceptable, unethical behavior:

  • Lying to employees to get specific tasks completed
  • Misusing company time
  • Engaging in a contract that is a direct conflict of interest
  • Insider trading
  • Misusing company funds
  • Giving or accepting gifts in exchange for a business favor

These examples are only some of the unethical business situations many companies deal with regularly. Ethics training can help everyone identify what problematic behaviors are and how to deal with them.

Why Is Ethics Training Important?

Maintaining a standard of ethics will keep your business on the path toward success. If your company operates by cutting corners, lying to employees, or misusing funds, you can face serious consequences. You will also experience higher turnover if the company is not respecting business ethics, as employees will feel reluctant to trust their employer. 

Maintaining a high standard of ethics ensures your business continues to flourish, your employees feel safe and happy, and your productivity increases. Hosting an ethics training program for your employees will help them become a part of the solution with you. It will reinforce their trust in your company and set the standard for acceptable behavior in the workplace. Here is a link to some resources you can turn to for help.

How Does Ethics Training Work?

Ethics training involves several parts that contribute to its success within an organization. Explore the following main pillars of ethics training workshops:

Determining the Baseline

The first step in ethics training is establishing a baseline for acceptable behavior. A clear description of what is and isn’t considered ethical will allow everyone to be on the same page so that they fully understand how your company operates and what is considered ethical behavior.

Different Strategies for Different Positions

Both management and employees need to receive ethics training, but they may need tailored workshops. Managers set the bar for their teams. They need to learn how to deal with unethical behavior among their teams. Employees need to learn more about identifying unethical behavior in themselves or co-workers and how to go about reporting unethical conduct.

Maintaining an Ethical Environment

Ethics training will also offer tips on maintaining an ethical environment even after the training session is complete. The training may include the following approaches:

  • Fostering a level of transparency at all times
  • Tips to boost the company’s credibility
  • Reminders of how unethical decisions can impact staff and company success

Identifying Ethical Workplace Issues

An essential part of ethics training will focus on identifying the characteristics of unethical behavior. Honesty, integrity, and morality are all concepts that employees will learn more about in ethics training. A clear, concise training session allows everyone to understand that anything unethical will not be tolerated and improves the way employees view their workplace.

Fostering honesty and integrity in the workplace must start from management setting a good example. Still, it is everyone’s job to ensure unethical behavior gets reported and resolved when it comes up. Even one unethical employee can influence others to commit unethical acts. 

Personal Accountability

An essential way to ensure employees work together to stop or prevent unethical behavior in the workplace is to ensure they feel personally accountable for their actions. Ethics training will explain how unethical business decisions may affect employees personally and professionally. By making unethical behavior the responsibility of each individual, and not simply as a group, you can ensure compliance and success with your team.

How to Handle Ethics Violations

Ethics training will cover how employees and employers should handle ethics violations they come across. Regardless of an individual’s position, every person should have a way to report the infractions without retaliation. Handling ethics violations can be a sensitive topic area, especially in small companies.

Ethics training will explain what you or your employees can do when faced with unethical situations so that you may find solutions to them immediately while maintaining a respectful and peaceful working environment for everyone.

Does My Team Need Ethics Training?

Ethics training should be an integral part of any business, no matter how big or small the business may be. Whether you have had issues with ethics in the past or not, ethics training is a way to keep everyone honest and ensure your company is working toward achieving even greater successes each day. Click here to get more details on training programs for companies.

How Can I Apply Ethics Training on an Ongoing Basis?

Although a course and a few refresher courses are essential for maintaining an ethical workplace, you can take steps as an employer or HR representative to ensure your company and its associates take ethical business relations seriously.

You can start by adding an ethics policy to each employee’s business contract to confirm their commitment to following a code of ethics in their career with you. You can also clearly outline the prohibited unethical behaviors and provide consequences for those who commit unethical acts, particularly unlawful ones.

The best way to ensure compliance, however, is to lead by example. Make ethical decisions yourself and speak openly with your staff about the importance of maintaining an honest, open, and respectful working environment. You should also implement a safe space for employees to share their concerns so that they may come forward with unethical reports safely.

Ethics training can help educate everyone on staff about the importance of maintaining an ethical business and how everyone in a company can work to promote ethical behavior in the workplace. Ethics training can significantly help to define your company’s code of behavior and ethics.


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