ethical workplace

How to Produce Ethical Workplace Policies

By Karen Bird

As more and more Millenials and Gen-Z enter the workforce, there has been a noticeable shift in priorities for employees. While in the past it was salary and friendly colleagues that significantly impacted the enjoyment of a job, nowadays there is a greater focus on fulfillment and a sense of purpose. As a result, if your company does not have a robust set of ethical policies in place, your younger team members may feel that their work does not align with their own moral code.

Most companies are aware of what not to do as far as official policies go, but can sometimes struggle to produce meaningful initiatives which have a positive impact on employee happiness and well-being. To help you get started producing an ethical workplace, here are some suggestions for addressing different topics in the workplace to boost team morale and improve your company culture.

Sustainability

Environmental awareness is on the up, and many people are taking steps to lead a more eco-friendly life outside of work. But why should this not be the case in the office too? There are many small changes that you can look to incorporate into an environmental policy. For example, you could ask your boss to switch to energy-saving light bulbs or to reduce the amount of printing that occurs to cut down on paper usage.

Perhaps a few of your colleagues live relatively close to one another and could set up a car sharing initiative? Even if all you achieve is setting up an effective recycling scheme, you’ll have a huge impact on your company’s impact on the natural world.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance can be addressed very simply in your office – you don’t necessarily need to create a specific policy for it. Simply lead by example and stick to the hours you are paid to work. Little things like taking a decent lunch break and regularly leaving on time will rub off on your colleagues and help them to also follow healthy working practices. Sending emails at the weekend can be tempting and is an easy trap to fall into, but one that can lead to falling down a rabbit hole when you’re supposed to be having a break from work. Make sure to maximize your weekends and enjoy the time away from your desk.

If you manage a team, leading by example is particularly important as although you may not realize it, the standards you hold yourself accountable to are likely what your employees think they should adhere to as well. Make it clear to them that overworking is a bad thing, and take steps to help them manage their workload so there isn’t a need to stay late outside of the 9-5.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)

Forming a CSR policy is one of the best ways to make an ethical impact on your workplace. Maybe you’ve always had the sense that you could do more to help your community or those less fortunate but feel inhibited by your 9-5 job.

If your business doesn’t yet have a CSR policy, there is a great opportunity to develop one yourself. Why not ask your colleagues which types of charities they’d be interested in supporting, and set up some initiatives to fundraise for them. Or if your boss is supportive, you could even look to introduce set volunteering days that employees can take to support a local charity.

It’s best to check first whether your company has an existing CSR policy and see if you can contribute to any existing charity work that’s already in the pipeline.

Equality & Diversity

Most companies now have a greater awareness of the different challenges employees can face depending on their gender, race, social background or religion. Few companies are aware of their own prejudices, and even fewer are willing to admit to them. But rather than just including a footnote in your company handbook, you should take steps to remove obstacles that your team members could be confronted with.

For example, you could implement a “no-interruptions” rule in meetings to prevent male team members from speaking over their female counterparts (something which studies have shown is a regular occurrence in many offices). Or you could set up a designated “quiet room” which can act as both a prayer room for any religious team members, as well as a pumping room for new mothers.

There are many other policies that you could choose to implement in your workplace, these are just a small selection. Contributing to the creation of ethical policies can be a really rewarding part of your job, especially when you see the positive impact it has on company culture and office morale.

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos
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Karen Bird
Karen Bird is the Business Manager for catering company Catering24 with a specific focus on sustainable products. She helps businesses to make responsible choices with their suppliers, and works to raise awareness of how companies can best tackle environmental issues in the workplace.

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