Intimidation, abuse of power, blackmail… Pressured by one of their colleagues, nearly one in five workers in Quebec (19%, to be precise) has admitted to having, at once point or another, taken decisions that went against their own values.
However, the vast majority (90%) of certified human resources professionals and certified industrial relations counsellors (CHRP/CIRC) surveyed in the Order of Certified Human Resources study state that ethics play an integral part in the culture of their companies.
Is the manager to blame?
While 80% of CHRP/CIRC argue that standards governing ethical behaviour and ethical planning are implemented within their organizations, less than half of the workers surveyed (40%) were even aware about the existence of such measures.
“These results indicate that there are communication efforts yet to be made in order for employees to be aware of the organization's programs. It is not about saying it once, but about repeating it over and over while regularly explaining the message. Continuous awareness ensures that proper measures are put into place,” states Florent Francoeur, CHRP, President and CEO of the Association of Certified Human Resources, in a statement.
A mirror effect
Because they are often implicit and unwritten, ethical values refer to the subjective notion that recovery will be influenced by the company’s behaviour within the organizational culture.
In other words, the human resource managers are to lead by example and ensure that the transmission of these unwritten rules is done at all levels of the organization.
As such, the study also establishes a link between non-compliance with the rules of ethics and workers' perceptions of their superiors: an employee who deviates from the agreed-upon work path tends to regard his boss as less honest. Such collateral damages resulting from negative perceptions of the company could be avoided. As the report points out, fewer workers would act against the organization’s ethics if they were better informed about the standards that should guide their behaviours.
A matter of compatibility
Unethical behaviours are most likely to arise when the employee’s values come in conflict with those promoted by the company.
“We can reduce the risk of conflict of values by performing tighter recruitments, and hiring only those personalities that are compatible with the organization,” says Isabelle Bedard, CHRP, President of IPC Organizational Development, in one of her articles. “In an interview, the candidate’s mindset and values must be clearly understood in order to predict how that individual will react in various organizational situations.”
For 20% of the Order members surveyed, ethical awareness among employees begins at the interview selection step. “This is great practice!” states Francoeur. “It reduces unwanted behaviours by ensuring a better match between the hired employee and the values promoted by the organization.”