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Communicating Ethics in the Workplace

 

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To drive positive behavioral change takes more than a one-off training session. In fact, there’s now a regulatory requirement for organizations to provide evidence of ongoing employee training on ethical behavior. That means paper compliance i.e. read-and-agree, is no longer sufficient.

 

Companies now have a duty to help employees to:

 

  • Identify an ethical situation;
  • Understand their responsibilities; and
  • Make the right decision  

 

Communicating ethics in thw workplace requires a sustained internal communications campaign. High impact visual messages pushed direct to employee’s screens play a key role here: in raising awareness; education; and message reinforcement.

The topic of ethics in the workplace can be vast. Common areas include harassment, bribery, fraud, inappropriate gifting (and receiving) and conflicts of interest. The challenge for internal communicators is how to effect behavioral-change, and awaken employees’ understanding of this serious area.

 

Targeted content


While ethics training might not be on the priority list for employees, targeted content for specific employee groups, presented in an interesting way, can boost its appeal.  

For example, your purchasing department may be more at risk to bribery from suppliers, whereas your sales team may be more at risk to blackmail from prospect customers. Creating hypothetical scenarios that your audience types can relate to will be highly impactful. Find out the key risk areas for each team and plan targeted content to suit.

 

communicating ethics bribery example

Workplace ethics screensaver example

 

Formats that appeal


The diverse make-up of today’s workforce requires internal communicators to use a variety of messaging tools for ethics training. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet that solves all communication needs. Instead, to truly get employee attention, a range of communication channels must be activated.  

 

Traditional methods such as the humble notice-board continue to play a role. But more recently, digital tools such as SnapComms' Internal Communication Channels are achieving great results. These eye-catching formats can be pushed direct to employees’ computing devices (including mobile), and programmed to run and repeat over a set period.

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Micro learning to explain ethics


Information overload has become a major headache for internal communicators. Messages longer than a few lines are at risk of being overlooked.

  • Latest research implies text more than 100 words is only read by 20%. Keep message on point, being clear about what action needs to be taken and when.

Use tools fit for purpose. For example, scrolling ticker bar messages can remain on screen until the required action has been taken i.e. click on a link.

Desktop wallpaper – also known as a desktop background - provides the perfect passive reminder about ethic principles.

 

ethics communication

Workplace ethics communication screensaver

 Tips for Creating an Ethical Culture

 

1. Deep dive content

Don’t overwhelm employees with too much information too soon. Instead, all workplace ethics communications should start at a high level, with a couple of key lead messages. Then, offer ways for employees to learn more through deep dive content. Include hyperlinks within your message notifications to other ethics reference material, such as intranet, videos and FAQs.

 

2. Deliver as a campaign

For organizations with a specific ethical problem, consider creating an entire internal communications campaign. This comprises a bundle of messages focused on the same topic for optimum reach during a specified period.

For example, a hospital may wish to run an IC campaign on pro-choice versus pro-life, a very common ethical dilemma for nursing staff. A corporate office may wish to run a campaign on whistle-blowing.

 

An IC campaign enables you to drip feed educational messages, followed with a validation asset that shows if an employee acknowledges, complies and validates their understanding.    

 

3. Repeat key messages

Once you have shortlisted key topics for ethical training, create a series of communication assets that focus exclusively on each topic. Frequent, repeated messages pushed out over time is key for behavioral-change learning. Of course there’s a fine balance here, so ensure different message formats deliver the key points.

 

4. Screensavers to raise awareness

Employee screensaver messages are highly effective visual reminders, perfect for reinforcing messages on ethical behavior. Multiple messages can be targeted to appropriate audiences. For example, in a hospital environment, healthworkers and nurses are faced with ethical dilemmas surrounding patient care every day. Often, a timely reminder about the importance of escalating issues, particularly surrounding gray areas, can be most welcome.

In a corporate environment, harassment may be an issue, and again, visual communications can help drive better outcomes. 

 

5. Quiz or survey

Some of the most engaging IC channels are pop up staff quiz and staff surveys which bypass email and are delivered in engaging visual formats on screen (on any device).

Quizzes can quickly test employees’ knowledge and uncover issues. They can be fun, collaborative and a great way to increase skills and identify gaps.

Staff surveys can capture key indicators across an entire workforce. Use them to drill into specific areas, and shed light on attitudes and engagement levels. 

Also gaining popularity are gamification tools. Teaser campaigns, leaderboards and group challenges – either done individually or in teams – are becoming a core IC asset for employee engagement on ethical issues.

 

6. Measure and evolve 

For continued progress, it’s important to track the impact of ethics communication in the workplace. You can measure employees’ awareness, understanding, engagement and attitude through a series of surveys and quizzes. Validation tools also help identify those staff who have not completed, or understood the training. 

Monitor which communication assets work better than others. With this data, you can fine tune your message and test different headlines to see which score a higher cut through. This can easily be done by tracking delivery of messages and click-through behavior.


 

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Useful Resources:


For content ideas visit Compliance Wave’s extensive library. This comprises 75 ethics and compliance topics presented in an easily digestible format. You’ll find explainer videos, case studies, training modules, cartoons and more. All content can be custom-branded to help get your message across.