Acting ethically is the only option
If you are in a position of authority, it is your job to exhibit the type of behavior you desire from your employees. Reconsider partaking in bad behavior – the short term gains will lead to long term losses.
Acting Ethically Will Save You Time
When you act unethically, not only are you wasting money, you are wasting time. You might even be reading this article in the middle of some compliance meeting if you haven’t already fallen asleep by the third power point slide. Loss of time leads to a loss of productivity, leading to a loss of money; hence, time itself is a valuable commodity.
When people spend their time on endeavors that are productive and rewarding they will enjoy their job and be better at it. If a workplace can effectively create an environment that encourages ethical behavior – through incentives and rewards that focus on process rather than output, by hiring the right people, and by placing people who act ethically into positions of power – it will have employees that want to be there.
Acting Ethically Will Allow You to Relax
When we do something wrong we feel guilty about it. Psychologists have shown that even when we can rationalize bad behavior, guilt affects us physically and emotionally. When we feel guilty we are tense, nervous, distrust others, lose sleep and our appetite. We enjoy life much less when we act badly, even if acting badly gives us those things we first thought would make us happy.
Likewise, if a workplace permits bad behavior, those in the office will feel a lack of trust among one another and are unlikely to collaborate and share ideas that may improve the company’s performance. In such an environment, employees, even the ones who do the right thing, will feel worry that they always have to be on the lookout for someone to take advantage of them. This saps people of time and energy.
There are many reasons one should act ethically, most of which draw on sophisticated appeals to a higher good. There is nothing wrong with those. However, before we can consider more lofty reasons why we should act ethically, it is only reasonable that we think of the practical consequences first. So if you ever wonder why you should be ethical, don’t feel the need to consult an obscure philosopher or book, just know: being ethical is good for you and good for business.
Kyle Scott is a visiting assistant professor at Duke University, with a Ph.D. in Political Science: American Political Theory and Public Law. He has authored three books; "Federalism: Theory and Practice," has just been released. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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