When it comes to reporting unethical behavior in the workplace, the stance comes with a great risk of making someone lose their job. So is it worth it and how can it be tackled without having to jeopardize your own position in the workplace?
It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly. ~ Margaret Mead
With rapid globalization, most of the workplaces around the globe have become cultural hubs. As distinction between color, creed and caste is being wiped out by employers to have a global workforce, it has created a vulnerable environment on the downside. Rifts amongst employees, hurdles in communication, and tensions are a few cons of a diverse work environment. These are the underlying reasons for unethical behavior in the workplace, which further stretches the delicate fabric of relations amongst employees. Unfortunately, the fear of losing ground if one decides to take a stand to report such behavior, stifles justice.
Ways to Deal with Unethical Behavior in the Workplace
To report bad behavior it is important to know where it stems from, how far has it stretched, how many has it affected and how far has it troubled everyone around. In order to find answers to these, one needs to run background checks on the malicious person. Screening a person’s actions and his previous associations will help you understand his core personality. A background check might show you the reasons for violating workplace ethics. In the longer run, a degree of reform or retribution to be meted out to the person in question can be assessed based on background research.
Unfortunately, unethical acts are subjective in nature. Due to their indefinable nature, they cannot be defended very easily. Generally, acts that harm the larger interests of a certain group are termed as unethical. Thus, the if actions of the person fit this definition, then you need to supplement it with effective evidence. While you are running the background checks, you will find ample evidence to support your arguments. Ensure all the proof you’ve gathered does not have any loopholes. Also, if you are gathering witnesses, make sure you can protect them if the need be.
Many times even the evidence needs to be verified. It has to be double checked to know that it supports your stand from all angles. Thus, verifying all your evidence is the next stage of reporting unethical behavior in the workplace. For instance, if the witness bears malicious intent against the unethical person, then he may go out of his way to construe false accusations. Thus, if you wish to take an honest stand against degeneration of ethics in a workplace, your evidence and witnesses too have to be checked and corrected.
Once you have the aforementioned in the right order, it time to raise your voice. Every company has a monthly feedback session or maintains a suggestion box. If you aren’t comfortable with speaking it upfront, then mail your HR with all the supporting evidence. The other way of dealing with this issue is dropping your suggestions in a suggestion box. Getting the support of your colleagues will help in validating the problem.
Reprimanding or warning the person will help in making the person understand the organization’s intolerance towards unethical behavior. Sadly, the integrity of any person cannot be corrected. It can only be questioned to help them understand its negative repercussions in a group. Many times employees fear losing their job at the risk of reporting unethical behavior. As a human resource officer, it is imperative to be observant of such rotten apples, before they go beyond spoiling just one basket.