Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Issue No. 4


"'Companies that do training well are those that go out and talk to employees directly and keep checking back to see whether it's really getting through to people,' says Win Swenson, managing partner in KMG's Washington, D.C. office.'"


Susan J. Wells, "Turn Employees Into Saints", HR Magazine, Dec, 1999, Vol. 44, No. 13


HR Magazine, December 1999


Should you have an "ethics program"?  Do you have an "ethics program"? What are the ramifications if you don't have a program?  I have a program, but how the organization performs the task of satisfying the "ethics requirement" set out by  management is that we hire an outside "expert" to conduct a week's worth of 8-hour classes so as to cover all employees.  This is enough to satisfy the requirement?  What about those new employee who have joined the organization after the fact?  Do you routinely schedule an ethics "refresher" each year?

Susan J. Wells presents an excellent subject on Ethics' Programs.  Wells indicates that even though there is a need to address these issues, many organizations have only taken the initial step.  Wells brings out percentages that might overwhelm you in realizing that organizations don't seem to follow through on their Ethics Programs.  "73% of 747 HR professionals say their organizations have developed written standards or codes of ethical business conduct ..."  Yet, "... 61% of respondents said their companies don't provide training on ethical standards."  "... 31% said their organizations have ethics offices or ombudsmen."

An interesting point was brought out by Wells in that "companies that do nothing at all may be smarter than those that take a weak stab at developing ethics programs.  Generally what can occur is the impression that management creates an "ethics program" only so that upper management is protected from any blame, and therefore can possibly promote unethical conduct.  In this case, the company would better off not having any attempt at creating a program.

A failed attempt at an ethics program could over time reveal bad behavior, but the ramifications of said could lower the company's previously perfect image, decrease employee morale and performance, and the customer loyalty could be tarnished.

How then does a company effectively create a quality ethics program?  Wells mentions, that experts recommend "to combine external ethics consulting and education to jump-start, but not replace, a carefully crated internal program that is managed and implemented by the company."  On the other spectrum, the least effective method is by hiring an outside trainer to deliver a brief training session that actually has nothing to do with the employees' actual work/job.

"Penn State's Trevino says, 'A good consultant who comes in and helps an organization to develop a program that's uniquely theirs, that fits, analyzes and improves the organization, is fine.  But that's not often how it works.  The concern is when a company just wants an off-the-shelf product that fills a perceived need quickly - that kind of quickie training method won't work.'"

What needs to be done is the HR department and others need to work together and determine - What are the real issues?  Once this is answered, the training is to be developed around these issues and special situations tied to policies.

Wells uses an excellent example of how Lockheed Martin Corp. in Bethesda, Maryland performed this task of an ethics  program.  The company created a game "The Ethics Challenge" so as to assist employees test and improve their ethics knowledge along with their problem-solving skills.  They utilized comic characters - Dilbert and Dogbert!  The game has 34 scenarios that were based on real problems that the employees dealt with on a regular basis.  The game became a success over the past four years and has replaced their previous training method that was done by an instructor in a workshop environment.  Supervisors and managers currently conduct this training for their employees and with that they choose situations that are relevant to their own departments.

TI, Texas Instruments took another approach with their program which includes a tear-out card from their manual "The Values and Ethics of TI" and with this, they take this for a continual ethics test for all employees to apply prior to taking any action:

Is the action legal?
Does it apply with our values?
If you do it, will you feel bad?
How will it look in the newspaper?
If you know it's wrong, don't do it.
If you're not sure, ask.
Keep asking until you get an answer.

Of course, follow up after implementing any ethics program is necessary with all employees.  This one of the faults of many organizations in their attempt to initiate a program, they neglect the follow up and therefore, their efforts have been wasted.  If an appropriate and effective program cannot be developed, then carried through with continual efforts of implementation, the organization is better to not have a program at all.