A Pledge For Online Video Responsibility – A Video Code Of Ethics
Ethical Dilemmas for Managers in the Workplace

Work Ethics & Job Satisfaction

Responsibilities of the Organization, Supervisors and Employees to Enhance Job Satisfaction

Ethical practices in business serve several purposes. First, they enable a manager to comply with laws and regulations. Second, sound ethical policies engender trust and reliability with respect to suppliers and creditors who are crucial to operating the business. Third, it helps to keep employees happy and willing to work hard to achieve organizational goals. Last and most important, following ethical practices in business is the right thing to do. Regardless of any utilitarian benefits and the profit motive, the basis for ethical action is to set the proper tone in an organization that unethical behavior will not be tolerated. Unethical behavior should be measured against a code of conduct or corporate policies. These requirements should include an ethics training program to inculcate ethical values in employees. Employees should be made aware of any hotline that is available to anonymously report alleged corporate wrongdoing; a corporate ombudsman if one exists; and the organization’s process for whistle-blowing. Corporations have responsibilities to the environment, the community’s they live and work in, and to the health and safety of employees. These and other social responsibility issues will be addressed in my next blog.

According to a Harris Interactive poll sponsored by the Career Advisory Board, the “millennial generation” wants more than just money from their day jobs. The 2010-2011 study defined millennials as people aged 21 to 31, who were either already working or planning to work in the near future. Seventy-one percent of millennials described having meaningful work as one of their top three factors for career success. Meanwhile, only 51 percent of hiring managers expected meaningful work to fall into the top three criteria for millennials. Attracting and keeping this young generation of workers requires creating an ethical company with valuable products they can be proud to support.

While ethical behavior promotes job satisfaction, job satisfaction also promotes ethical behavior. Dissatisfied employees are more likely to steal, especially if they see their superiors misbehaving, too. A Deloitte & Touche study said that 60 percent of surveyed Americans cited lack of work-life balance as the main reason for job discontent while 91 percent of working adults believe that employees are more likely to behave ethically at work when they have a good work-life balance

Even when work gets hectic, Forbes writer Martin Zwilling points out that always doing the right thing isn't a no-brainer for small business owners. He suggests that organizations should keep their priorities straight by planning ahead and communicating often. Then, clarify organizational values and staff your business and give people the tools they need to work according to those principles. Go beyond just adhering to the law. Operate according to the spirit of the law  because such a philosophy will enable you to better deal with complex and unstructured problems not anticipated by the law.  

Other pollsters who have measured job satisfaction in boom and bust times typically have found almost nine of 10 people are happy with the work they do. In Gallup polls taken every August from 1989 to 2009, 85 percent to 94 percent say they were either completely or somewhat satisfied with their jobs.

The best predictor of job satisfaction is age according to a survey by the University of Chicago. People in their 50s are usually the most gratified by their work, as they have found a field they do well in, been promoted and are given a degree of autonomy on the job.

The happiest workers are people in helping professions or doing creative work. Smith said firefighters, clergy and physical therapists are most likely to describe themselves as very satisfied with their work, along with people in jobs that involve caring for, teaching and protecting others. The least happy are roofers, he said, with only 25 percent saying they find their work satisfying. Generally, people in low skill jobs that involve customer service and serving food are an unhappy lot, according to his research.

The missing link in these studies is that employees have some responsibility to create an environment for themselves that fosters job satisfaction. The best way to do this is to challenge yourself to achieve reasonable goals on the job and enhance job skills so that you become a more valuable employee down the road. Also, don’t be a complainer or whiner. If you are unhappy with your job, talk to a supervisor and point out why. Sometimes your boss will not be aware of barriers to job satisfaction. Lastly, never leave a job on bad terms. Regardless of how you have been treated in the past, always take the high road of ethical behavior when dealing with a difficult job situation. It will come back to help you in the future when your current employer is contacted by a prospective employer to find out just how responsible and reliable you have been on the job.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on August 22, 2011