Having employees with a high level of integrity is very important to business owners because it allows them to trust the people who work for them. For instance, some people think that telling a white lie or using office property for personal use is harmless and does not affect anyone else; but in the business world even a seemingly minor misdeed can have important consequences. For this -- and other reasons -- you must instill in your employees the idea of having integrity, and explain that there are consequences for their actions.
Provide training on why integrity is important to employees and the company. Include a mission statement such as “Our company is committed to ethical behavior and values integrity in our employees." Present real world examples of integrity and how they apply to the type of business you run. For example, if a cashier returns too much change to a customer and her cash register is short at the end of her shift -- and she realizes why it is short -- instead of covering it up, she admits it, and you forgive the mistake and make up the difference.
Establish policies that address employees with continued integrity problems. Include what's expected and how ongoing integrity problems will be addressed. Develop a step-by-step counseling system -- verbal counseling first, then written counseling and, if the problem is severe enough, termination. The policy should explain the types of actions that result in counseling and indicate that if an employee's actions puts others' lives in jeopardy she could receive more severe punishment.
Schedule a meeting with employees and brief them on the new policies. Ask them to acknowledge that they will abide by the new rules. Answer any questions they may have. Give copies of the policies to all new hires as well.
Reward employees who demonstrate integrity. This gives them -- and others -- the incentive to continue to do the right thing and lets them know that you appreciate their efforts. Give an employee doing the right thing in a situation in which she could be dishonest an extra day off or a gift card; this shows other employees that there are benefits for following the policies.
Enforce the policies by disciplining employees who continue to show a lack of integrity; doing so shows tells other employees that there are repercussions for not abiding by the rules set forth in company policies.
Michael Laws is college educated with a major in business management. His professional experience includes the military, government contracting and information technology, and his areas of expertise include careers, technology, certification programs, computers and business.