Eye rolls. Chuckles. Silence. It’s easy to recognize signs of employee cynicism.
It’s easy to recognize signs of employee cynicism when it comes to ethics and compliance (E&C) activities. What’s harder to accept is that employee cynicism signals disbelief that the organization is seriously committed to a culture of integrity. Unchecked, cynicism can lead to higher risk of misconduct—ultimately the University’s reputation.
What Should You Do about It?
- Role Model Appropriately
Often, leaders don’t realize the impact their behavior can have on shaping organizational culture. An offhand remark or a dismissive attitude can speak volumes. Be personally committed to modeling behavior that supports an ethical culture, even when you think no one will know.
- Hold Yourself and Others Accountable
Demonstrate consistent accountability. If top performers and leaders experience the same types of corrective action for misconduct as everyone else, word will get around.
- Make E&C Real for Your Employees
Nothing frustrates employees more than training, emails, surveys and meetings that are not relevant to their work or are perceived to be unnecessary. Discuss E&C situations that relate to what happens where you work.
- Bring E&C Topics into Everyday Communication
Your E&C program is not an add-on to what you do—it defines how employees should work every day. Make a habit of talking about E&C as a regular part of work discussion. For example, introduce brief “safety moments” in staff meetings to discuss what employees should know about working safely. Or try an “ethics moment” to discuss doing the right things in situations that can really occur in their jobs. For additional resources, reach out to Compliance Services to request a presentation from UVM's Compliance Program for your regularly scheduled staff meeting.
- Regularly Communicate Expected Standards and Conduct
E&C tools help us do what is expected and appropriate at work. We may think we know it all, but we need reminders. Repetition of E&C concepts is important so that we can recall the information we need at the moment we need it. Encourage your staff to become familiar with the new Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards Presentation.
- Emphasize the Importance of Speaking Up
Employees speak up when there’s something broken in the workplace. Why not speak up if there’s a question about conduct that could derail your department's goals? Employees protect their own department—and jobs—by reporting concerns.
- Demystify the Reporting Process
Let employees know the different methods they can use to ask a question or report a concern. It’s especially important to explain what to expect after making a report. Let your employees know they can come to you with a concern or share how they can report concerns to Compliance@uvm.edu or through the Ethics and Compliance Reporting and Help Line if they want anonymity.
- Address Concerns about Reporting
Fear of retaliation can prevent people from speaking up. Help employees understand that retaliation won’t be tolerated. Explain what they can do in case they feel they are experiencing retaliation. Another inhibitor can be the belief that nothing will be done with their report. Here it is critical to model your own commitment to action and to closing the loop with the reporting employee once action is taken.
- Be Available
As a manager, be available to your employees and third-parties in case they want to report or have questions. And don’t just say it. Do it.
(Article adapted from Navex Global Compliance Communicator Newsletter with permission)