An ethical workplace is built on a foundation of trust. When employees trust leaders and leaders trust employees, customers will come to recognize these layers of trust, and will keep coming back. Everyone wins. Imagine working for a company with so much positive energy. You will want to keep coming back and doing what you do. You will be motivated. On the other hand, if you don’t trust your leaders or you believe they don't trust you, you might spend more time worrying than working.
You might not always know exactly where to find the line between right and wrong -- and if you can’t find it, you won’t know if you’re crossing it. It is up to management to help you see the direct link between ethics policies and specific tasks in your areas of responsibility. Not knowing what to do causes frustration and stress, neither of which is motivating. Knowledge really is power. Managers empower employees by clarifying the ethical way to make decisions on behalf of the company. Empowerment is an excellent motivator.
An ethical workplace is a collaborative one. Collaboration happens when people value each other's input. When you know your opinion is valued, you are motivated to succeed and to help the team succeed. Collaboration cannot happen when individual team members are absorbed in their own self-promotion. Selfishness makes that ethical line much harder to see, and much easier to cross. If you are dealing with a selfish team member, you might start to question whether or not some of the team’s decisions or activities are ethically-based. Your motivation to succeed might give way to anxiety.
Acknowledgement is an excellent motivator. When your manager publicly says you’ve done well, you are motivated to repeat the behavior that led to that acknowledgement. Colleagues start to follow your example. They want to do what you did to deserve that recognition. In this manner, ethical business practices can become the cultural norm. It feels good to do good. It can feel even better when you’re recognized for doing it. And when you’re feeling good, you are motivated.
Return on Investment
Building an ethical workplace culture pays a strong return on investment. When integrity is standard practice, leaders can apply less focus to public relations and fixing problems, and more to new business opportunities that promote ongoing company success. Collaborative employee teams can turn those new opportunities into profitable ventures that customers approve of. If you are fortunate enough to work for such a company, you might be motivated to keep it growing.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.