New York — April 17
Does work-life balance influence positive ethical behaviors at work? According to the findings of the “2007 Deloitte & Touche USA LLP Ethics & Workplace” survey, there is a strong relationship between the two factors.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Deloitte & Touche USA also showed that the behaviors of management and direct supervisors, coupled with positive reinforcement for ethical behavior, are the top factors for promoting ethical behavior in the workforce.
“In the competitive environment to attract and retain talent, it is imperative that employers provide employees with the means to attain a healthy work-life balance,” said Sharon L. Allen, Deloitte & Touche USA chairman of the board. “This is not only key to job satisfaction and retaining your most valued employees, but it is also critical in fostering an ethical workplace culture.
“When you think about it, if someone invests all of their time and energy into their jobs, it may have the unintended consequence of making them dependent on their jobs for everything, including their sense of personal worth. This makes it even harder to make a good choice when faced with an ethical dilemma if they believe it will impact their professional success.”
According to the survey, 91 percent of all employed adults agreed workers are more likely to behave ethically at work when they have a good work-life balance. A combined 44 percent of workers cite high levels of stress (28 percent), long hours (25 percent) and inflexible schedule (13 percent) as the causes of conflict between their work responsibilities and personal priorities, hence contributors to work-life imbalance.
Sixty percent of employed adults surveyed think job dissatisfaction is a leading reason why people make unethical decisions at work, and more than half of workers (55 percent) ranked a flexible work schedule among the top three factors leading to job satisfaction, second only to compensation (63 percent).
The survey also reveals the important impact management and supervisors have in promoting ethical workplace behaviors.
Employed adults ranked the behavior of management (42 percent) and direct supervisors (36 percent) as the top two factors contributing to the promotion of an ethical workplace.
Interestingly, the survey showed that reinforcement of criminal penalties and ethics training may do little to deter unethical behavior at work.
An underwhelming 10 percent of employed adults ranked criminal penalties for violation of code of conduct among the top three factors that help foster an ethical workplace environment, and only 16 percent ranked ethics training as a factor that has a positive influence on promoting ethical behavior.
“In order to encourage high ethical standards within our organizations, we first have to provide an environment that is conducive to ethical behavior,” Allen said. “However, management and leadership have a huge responsibility in setting examples for their organizations and living the values they preach if they want to sustain a culture of ethics.
“Corporate leaders have a duty to build and foster a values-based culture that thrives on high ethical standards and makes corporate and social responsibility a top priority. Only by instilling these values in our respective organizations will we be able to bestow a promising future to the next generation.”