Why Ethical Training Programs are Fundamental to Organizations in America

Why Ethical Training Programs are Fundamental to Organizations in America

Ethical Programs

Ethical Training Programs are Fundamental to Organizations in America

Introduction

Ethical behavior in organizations is as important as air is to human beings. It comes with many advantages not only to the employees but also to the whole organization. Although is important for any company, some companies have not implemented ethical training programs that help employees to behave in an ethical manner. These companies argue that implementing work ethics in any organization can be an expensive venture and cumbersome. They have thrown work ethics out of the window as they try to minimize the company’s costs. In most cases, managers and other key stakeholders of the company concentrate more on profit maximization and forget other aspects. For instance, a company may prefer to pay poverty-level wages to its workers and cut costs such as the work ethics training costs, as it pursues the profit maximization goal. However, over the years organizations have recognized that the practice ends up hurting their companies. They are increasingly realizing the need to commit to sustainable business ethics. They are increasingly training their members as they have realized they need to meet other goals apart from profit maximization.

Unethical behaviors in an organization may cripple a company both financially and operationally ((Valentine, Fleischman, and Godkin 2015, 143). Therefore, all the stakeholders in a company should act ethically starting from the top management. Business ethics training of all the key stakeholders of the company may help a company reduce employee misconduct and enhance their attitudes, resulting in increased productivity. It is important to note that in the modern world, organizations have diverse human capital. Their employees have different values and beliefs that could make it possible for them to have different standards of ethical conduct. What may be ethical for one, may turn to be unethical for the other person. Therefore, organizations should train their employees to ensure that the ethical standard is consistent for all of its employees, regardless of their individual values.  In the recent years, ethical training programs are being deployed rapidly in the workplace, due to the realization of their long-term benefits for the organization. Ethical training programs are essential for the American corporations as they improve the workplace environment, improve financial performance, and improve stakeholders’ relations.

Research objectives/questions

The study was expected to achieve the following objective:

  1. To highlight how unethical behavior among the key stakeholders of a company may affect a company negatively.
  2. To discuss how training of the employees can have numerous benefits to an organization and its importance.
  3. To determine reasons why companies do not train their employees on work ethics
  4. To show how the managers of a company play a great role in the implementation of the work ethics

For the stated objectives to be achieved, the research aimed to answer the following research questions:

  1. How does unethical behavior among the company’s employees affect the company negatively?
  2. How is training a fundamental thing to any organization?
  3. What benefits can accrue to a company whose employees behave ethically?
  4. Why are some organizations reluctant to train their employees on work ethics?

 

Literature Review

An unethical behavior has a detrimental effect on the company. It may make some result to workplace bullying. According to Valentine, Fleischman, and Godkin (2015), workplace bullying can be defined as any action that leads to abuse, mistreatment, victimization, and social undermining (144). The article notes that the deviant behavior is prevalent among the sales people in organizations. In addition, it notes that a workplace full of bullying can result in a “poor work climate” due to negative employment experiences (146).

Research has shown that most managers were expected to behave unethically. In his study, Weber (2015) noted that nearly half of the employees in the United States behave unethically. For this reason, various literature have advocated for the introduction of corporate ethics programs that are aimed at equipping the employees with knowledge on how to behave ethically. For instance, organizations can set up a corporate ethics programs such as “codes of conduct, ethics communication, reporting approach, and risk management,” that enhance an ethical culture in their organizations (Valentine, Fleischman, and Godkin 2015).

The top management plays a critical role in facilitating ethical behaviors in the employees. After training, the managers should embrace the workplace ethics for other employees to behave ethically. The junior staff members believe that the managers “are role models” who give them “cues about both acceptable and unacceptable” behaviors (Jaramilo, Bande, & Varela 2015, 108). Therefore, if the managers embrace and advocate for high ethical standards, other employees will embrace the knowledge they acquire from training. Jaramilo, Bande, & Varela (2015) note that “servant leadership,” in which managers prioritize ethical behavior in their organization and subordinates, may result to the company having an edge over its competitors.

Types of Training

Over years, government agencies have developed regulations that are aimed at combating the rising incidences of unethical behavior in the United States (Pasztor 2015). The move has seen companies conduct compliance training. Compliance training is a training that “is mandated by the government” (Weber 2015, 28). This type of training is mandatory for every organization. It is often conducted through the lecture method, and all the employees of the company are expected to comply with the stated ethical standards (28).

However, at times the organization can voluntarily take steps to eradicate unethical behavior by their workers (28). The management may set up ethical training programs that are aimed at making its employee professional. All the two pieces of training can be beneficial to the organizations. However, most ethical literature advocates for the voluntary training. In their article, “Towards an ethics of organizations,” Philips & Margolis (1999) note that the importance of organizations making their own code of conduct. They claim that problems arise “political philosophy id adapted” to the organizational ethics (625). The article notes how voluntary training would be best suited for organizations than compliance training.

Importance of Ethics Training Programs

Ethics training programs are essential for all organizations. In his article, Weber (2015) notes that training programs can “enhance the employees’ work experience,” thereby improving the overall organizational performance (29). Unethical behavior stirs violent acts and raises conflicts in an organization, thereby making the workplace an unconducive place for most workers. According to Weber, ethical training is a good program that makes employees recognize and appreciate ethical behavior. Moreover, it helps in reducing ethical dilemmas that exist in an organization. Philips and Margolis (1999) highlight that ethical behavior provides a way of “addressing problems” that comes up during the normal operations of the company (632).

In addition, there is a strong link between ethical behavior in organizations and financial performance of an organization. According to research, those companies that observed high ethical standard realized high financial performance. According to Weber (2015), employees that work in firms that followed high ethical standards excel more and recover quickly when faced with various traumas, as opposed to those working in firms that do not follow high ethical standards. Since organizations go through various phases in the life cycle such as boom and recession, they require dynamic employees. Therefore, ethical employees may assist a company that has gone to recession recover faster as compared to unethical employees.

Training can help an organization breach the gap that exists between individual and business ethics. Ethical behavior is critical to the sustainability of any organization. In his article, “Sustainability in a Society of Organizations,” Brunsson (2015) claims that individual ethics is different from organizational ethics. Therefore, the article recommends that employees should go through training to ensure that they know what is required of them, at the workplace.

In cases of compliance training, ethical training programs may help an organization avoid litigation costs due to non-adherence of the set regulations (Weber 2015). Since compliance training is required by the government, non-compliance may lead to court cases, which may end up tainting the name of the organization and increase the company’s expenses.

An ethical culture can eradicate workplace bullying that is common in many organizations. Through training, the organization can cultivate an ethical culture, which will strengthen the company and reduce interpersonal conflicts (Valentine, Fleischman, and Godkin 2015). Moreover, ethical culture can be an immediate remedy for the various corporate damages that are caused by unethical business conduct (Herald.co.zw, 2015). The article notes that the ethics training plays a great role in deterring the stakeholders from behaving unethically.

Methodology

The research involved a review of various literature in obtaining a detailed data that would help evaluate whether training programs were essential or not in organizations. The study employed the use of ethics literature since they are accurate, easy to find, and cost friendly. The ethics literature helped in proving the secondary data. The internet was used to get primary data could help us obtain more accurate and detailed research. In addition, a sample of employees was selected from various organizations randomly. The employees were selected from various corporations to ensure that the data gathered was detailed and unbiased.

The research employed the use of questionnaires that contained a mixture of open-ended questions and closed-ended questions that aimed at getting accurate results. In order to reduce the research costs, the questionnaire was supposed to be filled electronically through the google drive platform. The questionnaire was sent to 100 randomly selected employees, who were randomly chosen. Once chosen, an employee was given a link to the google drive document. Afterward, the employee was required to fill the questionnaire at his own convenience, within two days.

Results

The study found out that more organizations are more likely to adopt ethical training programs as compared to 5 years ago. In fact, many organizations had already set up ethical committees that were tasked to oversee the implementation the ethical training program. Moreover, the study found out that the number of organizations adopting ethical training programs has increased over time (Weber 2015).

However, Weber (2015) reported that the number of ethical training in any given year were small. Moreover, he noted that although large corporations had ethical training programs, they still experienced “repeated business ethical scandals (31).

Based on the responses that we got from the employees, most employees appreciated the role ethical training programs played in their organizations. Most of the respondents were helped by these programs since they made them be aware of the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in the workplace. Similarly, the literature reviews indicated that the ethical training programs help not only the organization, but also its employees. The study found out that harassment, disputes, and other unethical behaviors reduced significantly after the ethical training.

The employees acknowledged that the ethical training programs were helpful to the company. The study found out that the company’s financial performance has risen steadily after the introduction of the ethical training program. However, the study found out that organizations often faced challenges in the implementation of this program. For instance, some employees noted that some of the top management officials were against these programs claiming that they affect profitability. However, the study found out that the managers who were against the program now approve the program, after seeing the benefits of the program over the years.

 

The following observations were made from the study:

Description No of employees
Felt that the ethical training programs are helpful to the organization 75
Felt the ethical training programs helped them 60
Could recommend the training to other organizations 63
Favored the group training approach as compared to other methods 67
Observed reduction in disputes after the implementation of the ethical training programs. 54
Felt that the ethical training program targeted the senior management 34
Felt the ethical program targeted the junior management 45

 

Analysis and discussion

Based on the results above, it is evident that ethical training is being adopted more rapidly in organizations in the world today. More organizations are realizing that ethical programs have many benefits not only to the organization but also to the employees. The increased adoption of this program may be due to the notable improvements in companies that adopted ethical training program earlier on. Managers are slowly changing their perception about these programs. Moreover, the employees are also being receptive to this ethical programs.

In addition, the results indicate that many employees favor group interactions training approach. The study found that 67 respondents out of the 100 were for the group method of training. The group interactions involve conducting an analysis of various ethical issues that are evident in various ethical cases or real life business situations. The method enables the employees to tackle an ethical problem, thereby making them understand it more. In addition, the participants indicated that group interactions made them feel part of the ethical training program. Some of the respondents noted that they were trained using web-based training. With the advancements in technology, organizations are slowly shifting from the traditional way of passing knowledge to computer-based methods. Weber (2015) web-based training approaches can “offer significant time and cost savings (37).

From the literature review, it is evident that that ethical training can yield great results to an organization. Therefore, organizations should set up a code of conduct that stipulates how employees should behave while in the workplace. A code of conduct stipulates the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for a certain company. It also states the consequences of not complying with the stated policies.

Moreover, an ethical training program ensures that all the employees of the company have understood all the stated code of conduct clearly. Communication is key in an organization. Therefore, the ethical training program helps the organization to communicate its values and it acceptable morals that every individual should adhere to while at the workplace (Warren, Gasper & Laufer, 2014).

From the study, it is evident that unethical behavior in a company can hurt a company and cripple its financial performance. Previous studies have indicated that the unethical practices make the workplace be unfavorable for the employees. Employees with the poor working environment are more likely to have a low productivity which may be detrimental to the company. In addition, the company can use many resources in solving the organizational disputes that may result, due unethical behavior.

On the other hand, there are various advantages that can accrue to an organization that adopts the ethical training programs. As Weber (2015) noted the training programs enhance the employees’ working performance. They enable the employees to work together in unison without many disagreements, making them improve the productivity of the whole organization. The companies that have ethical training programs have a competitive edge over their competitors.

Consequently, the ethical training programs can result in increased customer loyalty. Ethically behaving employees may attract customers due to their good reputations. If the customers have a positive view of the company, they may be attracted to the company as opposed to the competitors. Therefore, through ethical training programs the company can gain a competitive edge over its competitors.

Moreover, ethical training programs would enable a company to retain its employees. In the workplace, employees need to feel that they are appreciated by others and valued by the management of the company. Ethical training programs ensure that all the employees are working with minimal disputes and trust among them (Muller et al. 2014). The study found out that 54 employees felt that the training had helped in reducing conflicts in the company. Good working relationships result to a better working environment which make the employees stay in the company. The programs may help an organization build values of trust, among the employees among other virtues such as honesty and truthful-ness. If implemented in an appropriate way, the programs may be helpful for managers as they may provide feedback on the various issues affecting the company.

In addition, due to globalization companies are adopting globally accepted standards. Ethical training programs can help a company adhere to these standards, thereby making them acceptable globally. A company with ethical employees could easily conduct business with other international companies due to its good reputation. In addition, it may be acceptable in other countries due to its observance of the internationally set ethical standards.

It is key to note that the ethical training programs can be very costly to the organizations. Therefore, organizations must “plan and allocate adequate time” and resources towards these training programs in order to equip the employees with the necessary skills that would help them “tackle ethical challenges” that they may come across while at the workplace (Herald.co.zw, 2015).

Limitations

Although this research significantly contributes to the previous research on the importance of work ethics training literature, there are a number of research limitations. For instance, the research mostly relied on peer-reviewed journals. In addition, since the study employed the use of questionnaires, the findings based on the questionnaires could have been biased. Further research could employ sophisticated methods to try to get accurate results on the effects of training on the key stakeholders and an organization as a whole. The research could be extended by looking into ways the employees’ ethical behavior can be assessed when at the workplace.

Conclusion

            In conclusion, ethical training programs are essential for the American corporations as they improve the workplace environment, improve financial performance, and improve stakeholders’ relations. In a decade, where globalization is the order of the day, companies should adopt these program to make them globally acceptable. Organizations should not consider short-term costs as a major challenge of implementing these ethical training programs. They should consider the long-term benefits that they can derive from implementing ethical training programs in their organizations.

The ethical programs enable a company to reap huge benefits. They enable a company to improve it’s working its working conditions, thereby retaining its current employees. Consequently, the study noted how the ethical training programs improved relations in the company, thereby enabling a good collaboration in the organization. Unity in the organization boosts productivity, which in turn improves the productivity of the company. The programs also ensure sustainability of a company.

Although many organizations have already established a code of conduct, it is not followed strictly. The managers have a role to play in ensuring that the set code of standards is followed. Moreover, the management has a role in making sure that the ethical training is conducted in an amicable way that the employees can easily understand. Besides, they lay emphasis on the code of conduct and should punish the employees who do not follow the set regulations. Most importantly, they should play a role model function by embracing the code of conduct.

 

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX A

Ethical Training Programs

QUESTIONNAIRE QUESTIONS

GENERAL INFORMATION

Name of the employee……………………………………………………. date………………..

Position (Title)……………………Number of working years in the organization………………

QUESTIONS

  1. What is your gender?

Male (   )         Female (    )

  1. Have you undergone any ethical training, in this organization?

Yes (    )   NO (    )

If yes, which training methods were used?

1………………………………………….

2…………………………………………..

3…………………………………………..

Which was the most effective ……………………………………………………………

  1. Do you believe that employee ethical training programs are effective in limiting unethical behavior in the organization?

Yes (    )   NO (    )

  1. Who was targeted by the ethical training program?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Did the program yield its objectives?

Yes (    )   NO (    )

If No, why do you think were the reasons for its failure ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. Do you think the ethical training program improved you as a person?

………………………………………………………………………………………………

  1. How has the ethical training program impacted the organization?
    1. ………………………………………………………..
    2. ………………………………………………………..
    3. ………………………………………………………..
    4. …………………………………………………………

 

END

 

 

References

Brunsson, K 2015, ‘Sustainability in a Society of Organisations’, Journal Of Organisational Transformation & Social Change, 12, 1, pp. 5-21, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Edlind, J, & Edmond, K 2015, ‘How to Get Your Employees Talking about Compliance and Ethics’, Journal Of Health Care Compliance, pp. 19-24, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Herald.co.zw, (2015). Benefits of ethics training | The Herald. [online] Available at: http://www.herald.co.zw/benefits-of-ethics-training/ [Accessed 14 Nov. 2015].

Jaramillo, F, Bande, B, & Varela, J 2015, ‘Servant leadership and ethics: a dyadic examination of supervisor behaviors and salesperson perceptions’, Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 35, 2, pp. 108-124, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Müller, R, Turner, R, Andersen, E, Jingting, S, & Kvalnes, Ø 2014, ‘Ethics, Trust, and Governance in Temporary Organizations’, Project Management Journal, 45, 4, pp. 39-54, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Pasztor, J 2015, ‘What Is Ethics, Anyway?’, Journal Of Financial Service Professionals, 69, 6, pp. 30-32, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Phillips, R, & Margolis, J 1999, ‘TOWARD AN ETHICS OF ORGANIZATIONS’, Business Ethics Quarterly, 9, 4, pp. 619-638, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Valentine, S, Fleischman, G, & Godkin, L 2015, ‘Rogues in the ranks of selling organizations: using corporate ethics to manage workplace bullying and job satisfaction’, Journal Of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 35, 2, pp. 143-163, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Warren, D, Gaspar, J, & Laufer, W 2014, ‘Is Formal Ethics Training Merely Cosmetic? A Study of Ethics Training and Ethical Organizational Culture’, Business Ethics Quarterly, 24, 1, pp. 85-117, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

Weber, J 2015, ‘Investigating and Assessing the Quality of Employee Ethics Training Programs Among US-Based Global Organizations’, Journal Of Business Ethics, 129, 1, pp. 27-42, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 November 2015.

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