Establishing an effective corporate ethics training programme
It doesn't have to be boring and your business will reap the benefits of ethics training, says Giovanni Gallo.
Every organisation wants to be an 'ethical company'. The benefits of corporate ethics have long been purported by researchers. Ethical companies are more likely to retain their employees and have a happier workforce, which results in higher productivity in the long run.
Perhaps most importantly, corporate ethics benefits the bottom line; about a third of consumers say they would prefer to purchase from a company with a reputation for being ethical.
But how do you make your company more ethical? The same way that your business operations are the combined efforts of many individuals, corporate ethics is all about the actions of your individual employees. To get the most ethical behaviour from your workers, you need to advocate for corporate ethics – and the best way to do that is through an ethics training program.
Why your company should offer ethics training
As the name suggests, ethics training teaches your workers the proper standards and policies expected of them as employees of your company.
When your company values ethics, your workers are more likely to be loyal – everyone wins.
This training program offers innumerable benefits to your organisation, from protecting your bottom line (employees with ethics training are less likely to do things that could result in a lawsuit) to creating an environment where all your employees feel comfortable making their voices heard.
Ethical companies benefit from a more engaged, collaborative, and productive workforce – and this will give your business a competitive advantage over your competitors. And of course, when your company values ethics, your workers are more likely to be loyal – everyone wins.
How to develop an ethics training programme
Ethics training is a great way to promote ethics from the first day your employees walk through the door. But how do you develop an ethics training program that suits your business? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Start with a solid foundation
Corporate ethics is a big, complex topic, with many subtopics for your employees to wrap their heads around (diversity, industry compliance, anti-harassment policies, etc.). But if you introduce all these topics at once, you’re likely to lose more than a few employees in the process!
Instead, start simple: design an employee code of conduct with specific, actionable rules. This will give your employees a firm foundation based in ethical behavior – and it will make it easier to tackle more complicated issues later.
Find your key areas of focus
Once your employees have a solid understanding of the basic ethical standards at your company, you can start discussing meatier topics in your corporate ethics training. But this brings you to a new issue: which areas are most important to your business?
The fact is that there’s no right answer here. The ethical subjects your business needs to cover will vary depending on your industry and on your trainees’ positions within the company. However, some of the most common focus areas include:
- Customer privacy and data protection
- Company code of ethics
- Regulatory and compliance training
- Diversity training
Take some time to figure out which focus areas are most paramount to your trainees and make sure you give them a thorough training on those topics.
Mix it up
When most hear the phrase 'corporate training', they picture a bland conference room with fluorescent lighting where they’ll be trapped for hours at a time. This old-school training style simply doesn’t work with today’s fast-paced business world – so why not give your trainees a new way to learn?
While you may need to have a few seminars to get your point across, you can also use other training methods to keep things fresh for your trainees. For example, short informative videos (about five to eight minutes long) can be highly effective for communicating ethics topics (and your employees can watch them on their own time if necessary)!
Another way to promote an ethical culture within your company is to have an incentive program surrounding ethical behavior. If an employee demonstrates a dedication to business ethics through his or her actions, they can receive a reward – thus proving that ethics is valuable to you, the employer.
Incentive programs are also a great way to encourage engagement during training. If trainees get rewarded for speaking up during discussions or correctly remembering company policies, they will be more likely to listen and absorb the information you have to give.
A lot of corporate ethics is...loaded, to say the least. Issues of diversity and inclusion can be particularly intimidating, but sometimes an open discussion is the best way to reach some inclusive insights.
During training, break your employees into groups and have them discuss ethical issues and dilemmas as they relate to the business. This will help them better digest the topics, as they will have to consider their opinions and bounce ideas off their colleagues in the group.
Make it entertaining
Finally, it’s important to make sure that your corporate ethics training is entertaining and fun. Use games, skits, videos, and other learning tools to liven up the training and make it more engaging. After all, everyone learns better when they’re having a good time!
Not sure how to gamify your training? Many third-party vendors offer ethics training programs with customisable curriculum you can use to make your trainings more fun (and more effective).
Creating an ethical culture
Establishing a corporate culture steeped in ethical practices is important to both consumers and employees. Ensure your employees are individually valuing ethical behaviour by engaging them in training programs that offer diversity in learning opportunities and are fun! When they see you, as the employer, hold ethics in high-esteem, they will, too.
About the author
Giovanni Gallo is the Co-CEO of ComplianceLine.
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