Planning for Ethics Programs

Employee awareness is a crucial factor in the success of organizational ethics programs. That was a conclusion reached in our December 28, 2015 blog post, Ethics at Work, which reported the results of a survey by the Institute of Business Ethics.

Employee awareness—of the company’s commitment to ethical behavior, of the “do’s and don’ts” and grey areas, of the company’s ethics hotline and other reporting mechanisms, of where to go with questions, and more—must be constantly maintained.

It is not enough to provide a thorough new hire orientation, nor is it enough to send out a once a year reminder with a copy of the code of ethics.

Savvy business people know that they must regularly communicate with their current and potential customers or clients, using a variety of communications methods, in order to attract, engage, and retain them. Savvy advertisers and social media users set goals for how and when they will reach out, and they set up a calendar of planned events and topics intended to keep their customers or clients aware and engaged. The same approach will help build and maintain employee awareness and use of ethics program components.

The beginning of the year is a good time to review, update, and schedule ethics-related mass-communication efforts such as language in the company’s published code of conduct and code of ethics, modules in new employee orientation sessions and in various current-employee training programs, and company-wide meetings and email distributions.

Now is also a good time to plan for special communications efforts targeted to related initiatives such as Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week or International Fraud Awareness Week, both celebrated in November. Of equal value—target communication efforts to company-specific anniversaries such as the anniversary of the ethics hotline or the code of ethics.

Smaller, targeted, and more frequent supporting communications efforts are essential for reinforcing the company’s ethics message and help keep employee awareness high.  It is just as important to plan for and schedule these efforts as it is for mass-communication efforts.  Examples include such activities as placing short stories in the company newsletter or on internal social media sites, refreshing and redistributing brochures and posters, or creating and posting banner ads on the company intranet.

A company that sets ethics-related communications goals and creates a calendar of events and topics designed to maintain employee awareness should reap the benefit not only of positive employee awareness of ethics policies, ethics programs, and desired ethical behaviors, but also of a positive perception of the company’s ethical culture. Don’t leave ethics awareness to chance; start planning for it now.

Ethical Advocate provides comprehensive ethics and compliance solutions, including ethics and compliance training and confidential and anonymous hotlines. Please contact us for additional information.