Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

The Ethics of Behavior

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Ethics are the moral principles that govern business behavior. It’s critical for HR personnel to understand that compliance with federal and state employment regulations doesn’t necessarily mean the business is practicing ethical behaviors. One problem is that while laws and regulations create definite standards of behavior, the concept of ethics is more subjective and perceptions about what constitutes ethical behavior often differs between individuals. To build an ethical behavior framework, HR employment practices must not only adhere to legal guidelines but also model and adhere to the business’s core values.


HR Ethical Issues

The lack of or a loosely enforced small-business ethics policy often leads to business owners continually struggling with a multitude of common fair-treatment issues. These include — but aren’t limited to — favoritism in hiring practices, employee training and promotion, and inconsistent disciplinary measures, which may lead to increased instances of workplace harassment. Other issues include a lack of confidentiality surrounding an employee’s personal and performance information, wage discrimination and basing annual reviews on factors unrelated to an employee’s role.

Trust and Mutual Respect

HR can foster an environment where justice and fair treatment is the norm by creating and living up to an expectation of trust and mutual respect. Trust is fostered when information-sharing is accurate, timely and complete, and when clear, specific and measurable goals are set for the business and its employees, and employees at all levels are encouraged to share their ideas and concerns. Mutual respect develops when dignity is a behavioral standard, when the business owner and management team encourage initiative and creativity, and when diversity isn’t simply tolerated but appreciated and promoted.

Maintaining an Ethical Environment

HR has the power to influence the company culture. It often takes more, however, than creating and adhering to a company ethics policy. Ongoing and open communication is essential to maintaining an environment that promotes ethical behaviors such as justice and fair treatment. After setting ethical behavioral expectations, a next step is the establishment of a communication platform, such as an open-door policy and focus group meetings, that ensures a forum for discussing ethical issues exists.

Factors affecting ethical decisions
 Normative judgments
-Judging something as good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse.
 Moral standards (Morality)

-Society’s accepted standards for behaviors that have serious consequences to its well
• Behaviors that cannot be established or changed by decisions of authoritative bodies.
• Behaviors that override self-interest.

Workplace ethics involve developing an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for everyone. An ethical workplace strives to conduct business in a manner that is beneficial to owners, employees and customers. An ethical workplace involves refraining from negative behavior and actively striving to improve ethical performance and understanding. Workplace ethics and behavior are a crucial part of employment, as both are aspects that can assist a company in its efforts to be profitable. In fact, ethics and behavior are just as important to most companies as performance as high morale and teamwork are two ingredients for success. Every business in every industry has certain guidelines to which its employees must adhere, and frequently outline such aspects in employee handbooks.


In a world that often features intolerance and misunderstanding between groups, a central factor in an ethical workplace is the inclusion of all people, regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference or culture. The modern workplace often features people of widely divergent backgrounds, and it is critical that they respect each other if the workplace is to be a pleasant and positive place. People with differing viewpoints are not required to become best friends, but they are required to maintain a professional manner and to keep hurtful and destructive opinions to themselves.


Honesty is a central factor in an ethical workplace. Honest dealings need to occur between management and employees, between co-workers, and between the business and its customers. If any of these relationships is characterized by deception and lying, it will undermine the social health and effectiveness of the workplace.


Businesses are legally and ethically required to follow certain rules regarding workers’ rights, business activities and environmental regulations. Breaking the law is a clear contravention of the standards of an ethical workplace. Illegal activities that are found in a workplace include tax evasion, discrimination against certain groups and violation of environmental laws, such as protecting air and water. Employees who may not be responsible for these policies are ethically bound to report these situations to the proper authorities.


Disclosure is a more specific subcategory of honesty within the elements that comprise ethical behavior in a workplace. While honesty is expected in all situations, disclosure is sometimes appropriate and sometimes not. For example, business owners are not expected or required to reveal their financial details to customers. However, problems or situations that may affect or endanger employees or customers must be exposed. Some examples include automotive recalls when potentially dangerous flaws are identified; and discontinuation of products that are determined to be unhealthy.


All companies specify what acceptable behavior is, and what is not, when hiring an employee. Many even summarize expected conduct in job descriptions or during the interview process. Behavior guidelines typically address topics, such as harassment, work attire and language. Workers who don’t follow codes of conduct may receive written and verbal warnings, and ultimately be fired.


A key component to workplace ethics and behavior is integrity, or being honest and doing the right thing at all times. For example, health care employees who work with mentally or physically challenged patients must possess a high degree of integrity, as those who manage and work primarily with money. Workers with integrity also avoid gossip and sneakiness while on the job.


Taking responsibility for your actions is another major factor when it comes to workplace ethics and behavior. That means showing up on scheduled workdays, as well as arriving on time and putting in an honest effort while on the job. Workers who exhibit accountability are honest when things go wrong, then work toward a resolution while remaining professional all the while.


A vital aspect of the workplace is working well with others. That includes everyone from peers to supervisors to customers. While not all employees will always like each other, they do need to set aside their personal or even work-related differences to reach a larger goal. In many instances, those who are not considered “team players” can face demotion or even termination. On the other hand, those who work well with others often can advance on that aspect alone, with teamwork sometimes even outweighing performance.


Ethical and behavioral guidelines in the workplace often place a high amount of importance on dedication. Although possessing the necessary skills is essential, a strong work ethic and positive attitude toward the job can carry you a long way. Plus, dedication is often viewed in the business world as “contagious,” meaning employees who give a strong effort can often inspire their co- workers to do the same.


  1. What does workplace ethics involves?
  2. What are the factors effecting ethical decisions?
  3. State the major features of workplace ethics.