A Quick Guide to Ethics Training

Aside from being some of the most profitable and successful businesses and brands in the world, there’s something else that Verizon, Coca-Cola, Motorola, Colgate-Palmolive and the United Parcel Service all have in common: a Code of Business Conduct for their employees.  Having a Code of Business Conduct in place provides your company and its employees with a backbone that they can rely on in any situation.  That’s because to do the right thing at every turn of the screw in every situation, all an employee has to do is be in compliance with the Code of Business Conduct.

This is called ethics and in order to ensure that your employees are compliant with the policies and practices set forth by your company’s Code of Business Conduct, Ethics Training is needed.  Otherwise, you leave a wide door open for human error and misinterpretation, say if you simply handed an employee your Code of Business Conduct and asked them to read it.  How can you know they did read it, let alone interpret it correctly?

What is Ethics Training? 

Ethics training is all about achieving and affecting ethical behavior by means of determining compliance.  Business ethics are not about thinking or morals (as in philosophy).  Instead, business ethics are all about being in compliance with the rules and policies set forward by the employee’s employer.

These rules are put into place to protect both employer and employee from legal ramifications and span through any number of situations.  From federal, state and local laws to simply avoiding legal disputes with clients or other departments within the branch.  Essentially, Ethics Training just simply teaches employees what the rules are, what they mean and how to follow them.  Ethics Training does not go into the specifics of the laws or reasons behind these rules in most cases, but focuses instead on compliance.

Why is Ethics Training so Important? 

When an employee is compliant with the Code of Business Conduct, he or she will be able to recognize a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do in every situation no matter what.  They will determine a right and wrong action and immediately understand the right action is the only choice if they want to remain employees.  This limits the amount of human error and misinterpretation that occurs.

When employees are in compliance, there are only mistakes that can’t be avoided—mistakes aren’t typically penalized, though they can be costly if not unavoidable.  But compliance lowers the occurrence of these mistakes by forcing employees to scrutinize the decisions that can haphazardly lead up to these mistakes.  Instead, they choose the proper path of action and when everyone is doing this, mistakes are all but eliminated from existence or come from outside of the company.

What are the Objectives of Ethics Training?

When your employees undertake Ethics Training, there are a number of goals that they will achieve, all with the same purpose of bringing your employees into compliance with your Code of Business Conduct.  Some of these goals include:

Being able to describe the purpose of ethics, compliance and the Code of Business Conduct
Learning how to identify and build a frame for making ethical decisions at every step of the way
Understanding and being able to describe the standards employers have regarding co-worker interaction in (and possibly out) the workplace
Understanding and being able to describe the standards employers have regarding the protection of company assets and information in and out of the workplace
Being able to recognize, identify and explain different types of conflicts (be they personal, physical, situational or interest-based) that are to be actively avoided if possible
Being able to describe in detail the standards and practices for dealing with your company’s competition
Being able to describe in detail the standards and practices for dealing with your company’s customers

What Kind of Topics are Covered During Ethics Training? 

In order to help your employees meet these goals, ethics training has a certain set of primary topics that are covered.  Of course, the ethics training module is different from company to company because each company has their own goals, rules, regulations and Code of Business Conduct.  Here are some of the most common topics touched upon during Ethics Training:

Information that is confidential
Workplace security
Harassment in the workplace
Discrimination in the workplace
Protecting company assets
Equal opportunity employment
Conflicts of interest
Ethical decision making frameworks
Violence in the workplace
Political activities
Rules for entertainment in the workplace
Fair play
Conduct outside the workplace
Individual responsibility

About the Author: This article is the work of Mike Johnson, a writer for globallearningsystems.com, a specialist in security awareness and custom training solutions. To learn more about their products and offerings, click here.

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