Everyone makes mistakes. Like that time you walked into Bill’s office with a joke while he was in the middle of a Zoom meeting. Or when you mixed up your sandwich with Olivia’s in the communal office fridge. Usually, mistakes at work are harmless. But when mistakes hurt our employees, coworkers, customers, or organization, they can leave lasting, damaging effects for everyone involved.

We at Ethena believe that every professional in today’s workplace should have the tools to act ethically. Just like apologizing to Bill for that surprise intrusion and offering to buy Olivia a replacement sandwich (she deserved better than that PB&J anyway!), acting with ethical business behavior allows us to work with integrity, treat our coworkers and customers with respect, and own up to mistakes when they happen.

What does unethical business behavior look like?

Acting unethically at work can potentially look like:

  • Stealing alllllll the Sharpies from the office supply closet (there were boxes of them!)
  • Bullying Shannon into staying late to finish the project while you, her manager, head to happy hour
  • Slipping in through the office front door a little bit later every morning
  • Ignoring the HIPAA safety regulations for properly handling sensitive personal health information (PHI)
  • Accepting front row Nets tickets from that sales representative who really wants an “in” with your boss
  • Not safeguarding material nonpublic information (MNPI) in public settings
A screenshot from Ethena’s Anti-Bribery & Corruption course

How unethical behavior affects businesses in the real world

You ask: So what’s the big deal? Sure, giving a catty response when Matthew asks you how to use the copier for the 14th time isn’t very nice, but fudging the line a little here and there isn’t that bad, right?

Unethical behavior can have big ramifications for a business. Take this for an example. A top national bank was exposed for conducting fake interviews with women and people of color (POC) job candidates.

In all instances, the position had already been promised to someone else, but the bank’s goal was to record the company’s diversity efforts so that they looked good on paper (and to the auditors when they came knocking). When staff members opened up to the press about being instructed by higher-ups to tick the diversity boxes, the story caused immediate distrust of the bank for clients, current employees, and prospective job applicants.

And it’s not only national-level scandals that can impact a company. Unethical behavior between staff members can also have lasting effects. For example, a very famous and very expensive restaurant recently came under fire when employees shared workplace allegations of bullying, verbal threats, and unsafe work conditions regarding the head chef and management level staff. When the story broke, it enraged the local dining scene and left the restaurant’s PR team scrambling.

In summary, unethical behavior in the workplace can have major ramifications.

So what can we do about it?

Implement a business ethics training course

Just because you’ve experienced unethical behaviors in your workplace, all is not lost (and if you haven’t yet, great! We want to keep it that way)! This is where ethics training in the workplace comes in. Ethics training empowers employees to not only be able to identify, but also learn how to deal with ethical problems in order to improve the workplace. So when Carmen starts gossiping about MNPI at a tradeshow event in front of competitors, or you’re tempted to beef up the quarterly reports, you can think back to your business ethics training course as a guide to workplace ethical behavior.

Who wants to go to work every day in a toxic, passive-aggressive (or straight up aggressive) workplace? Definitely not us, and we know that you don’t want to either. A great ethics training program for employees will help to create a professional environment that everyone wants to be a part of, so that you can gently curtail a toxic work environment from ever occurring.

Ethical training for employees will ensure that your team treats coworkers, clients, and the organization with dignity and that they are committed to honesty, confidentiality, and transparency in the workplace.

Make sure it’s an effective business ethics course

So how could these unethical situations have been avoided? With the right foundation of business ethics courses, staff are given the tools to kick negative, harmful, and unproductive workplace behaviors to the curb.

In the first example above, rather than bluffing the numbers with fake interviews like the national bank did, diversity should have been treated as a real priority in order to bring applicants from all ethnicities, backgrounds and genders to the table. Not to mention the other additional benefits of a diverse workforce!

And how about that toxic restaurant that left its employees with no escape option left but to resign? If management had received Code of Conduct training that emphasized treating others with respect and dignity and consistently acting with good values, that kitchen could’ve been a workplace of trust, innovation, education, and belonging.

Modern online ethics training for employees

At Ethena, we design engaging business ethics online courses that inspire organizations to build better workplaces. Your Code of Conduct is in place to protect employees and create a work environment that lifts everyone up. But, as we say, if no one takes the time to read it, does it really make an impact?

We know from experience that Code of Conduct training hasn’t been touted as the most riveting in the past. That’s why Ethena’s smart, compelling Code of Conduct course content includes modern events and is designed with the modern learner in mind. When everyone is on the same page, everyone wins. It should be that easy — and with Ethena, it is.

And speaking of winning, we at Ethena want to support you in getting your employees, clients, and prospective applicants on the same playing field. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training brings complex issues to light with real-world examples, vivid comics, and imaginative videos.

We understand that DEI training can be a daunting subject in our ever-shifting world. Ethena’s DEI training helps learners better understand, support, and celebrate coworkers with rising identities through compassion and intersectional awareness. And with a 95% approval rating from learners, Ethena’s DEI training will help you get learners well on their way to getting everyone on the right track.

Request a sample of our DEI training today to see it in action. Or, if you’re ready to take charge of the business ethics in your workplace, let’s talk. After a no-nonsense chat with our team, you could be up and running in just five minutes with effective trainings designed to not only protect your workplace, but to promote a healthy culture to boot!