Let’s face it, few workplaces are free of office politics, power struggles, and subtle or blatantly unethical behavior. Ethics and morality in the workplace are generally desirable for both employees and the employer. But, the workplace is fraught with the potential for major unethical issues such as fraud, misuse and misappropriation of funds, outright discrimination or sexual harassment.
How do you do the right thing in an office setting whether you are faced with small or significant ethical questions?
Face up to office politics
Power struggles are inherent in the rubric of most workplaces—it’s almost inevitable. Although some advocate that employees completely avoid office politics to stay out of trouble, it’sunlikely that you can absolutely stay out of it. One of the best ways to navigate office politics is to understand the game and what you want out of it. While you do not want to be the doormat, you also do not want to engage in unnecessary fights. It is possible to defend your position rationally and consistently without resorting to underhanded tactics. More importantly, if you consider yourself to be of high moral standards, do not contradict your values just so you can win in a certain situation.
Make it clear what you stand for
It is easy to overlook ‘small’ incidences that could constitute unethical behavior. Think about the employee who takes office stationery for home use. How about using office time to download YouTube movies? And the one who spreads malicious rumors about others?
The office set up is a quid pro quo maze. If you want to encourage your workmates to always do the right thing, you should be a shining example in every aspect of your work life. Do not say that you do not support accounting fraud yet you still go ahead to use office time to play around on social media.
You certainly do not have to be perfect but you do need to bring forth your moral character in all your office activities. This way, everyone will be clear about what you stand for, what you can compromise and what you simply cannot.
Do unto others as you want in return
Many employees would admit to engaging in gossip at one time or another. Some even consider it a necessary part of office life. But, gossip tends to be toxic and creates a tense work environment. A great way to create an aura of morality and ethics is to stay away from participating in office gossip and call out on your colleagues who are out to badmouth others. Refusing to engage in office gossip passes across the message about your moral standing and your preference to talk directly to someone instead of talking behind their backs.
Neutrality is your best bet
Office dynamics can easily escalate into outright fragmentation as people take sides and throw away the concept of teamwork. Whether you are the manager, supervisor or subordinate employee try as much as possible not to take sides during overt or covert office confrontations. After all, there is no rule that you have to play the game. Remaining neutral allows you to be objective about many workplace dynamics.
Undoubtedly, being of sound moral character will not guarantee your position in the office place. The truth is, today, no position is guaranteed.But, doing the right thing will inevitably earn you loyalty and trust among your superiors and fellow work colleagues.