Office ethics can refer to a set of codes and values, and rules that derive from them, that help to determine right choices and behavior in the office setting. These may be different depending on each office and are most based on the core values the office wants to express and wants employees to follow. Numerous things may be included in office ethics or some companies don’t clearly draw out an ethical policy. The latter stance may occasionally lead to trouble and employees may have to make their own decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas, since these ethics are not always in keeping with personal moral stance.
The wise company tends to establish values that it wants employees to understand and follow, and on top of this, they may set up rules so there is little moral decision making needed. If one core value is to make certain that all workers feel comfortable in the workplace, for instance, a rule that might follow is no soliciting of outside products at work. This could produce discomfort in some employees, making them feel they can’t escape a marketing environment while working, and the company may respond by outlawing a practice that would go against one of its core values.
With this same core value, office ethics can tell people how to behave to each other. Clearly, making sure people are comfortable means treating each other with respect, not soliciting others for sexual activity or romantic liaisons, being responsible for work so it is not passed onto others, and keeping the workplace clean. A lot of rules can be generated from basic office ethics, or some companies expect employees to infer rules from basic assumptions regarding how a company defines what is good or moral.
There are some office ethics that apply to almost all offices, at least in theory. It is usually considered wrong to do things like take office supplies for home use, to express rudeness, on the phone or in person, to customers, and/or to behave in any manner that violates regional employment laws. These behaviors may lead to either warnings or firing, depending on the abuse perpetuated.
Other activities that are, at the least, frowned upon include using work time to conduct personal businesses, such as emailing friends, contributing to a Facebook® page, or making long distance calls to family. Some offices might permit a few of these activities to a certain degree. Not all do so, and these behaviors might earn sharp reprimands or eventual termination of employment.
Since office ethics can only be thought of in example form, it’s useful for employees to understand a business’ ethical code and core values when first getting a job. It should be noted that not all offices adhere to a defined set of ethics, and this may be fairly easy to tell in early days of employment. Flagrant disregard of ethics by employees and supervisors suggests the code really isn’t working and possibly may be disregarded by the new employee. On the other hand, one person violating a code doesn’t suggest a whole office does, and shouldn’t be taken as example for how to behave in the workplace.