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Introduction

Organisation behaviour (OB) is not just about keeping employees happy. It is about putting
employees in a position that suits their personality and experience as well as helping them to
grow in a way that they become more of an asset to the business.

As mentioned in McShane and Travaglione, (2007) there are five key trends occurring in the
workplace: globalisation; the changing workforce; evolving employment relationships; virtual
work; and workplace values and ethics. This paper will be focusing on one of the five key trends,
workplace values and ethics; how it influences an employee’s behaviour in an organisation
setting.

Values

Value is a principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable (dictionary.com,


2009). It can also be defined as core beliefs or desire that guide or motivate attitude and actions
ethics. They allow us to determine what companies we are attracted to and how long we stay
with them. It also affects how motivated we are at work. (Osland S. Joyce, Kolb A. David, Rubin
M.Irwin, Turner E, Marlene, 2007)

Values represent the unseen magnet that pulls employees in the same direction (McShane and
Travaglione, 2007) and therefore, corporations set their values with the expectation that their
leaders will model the values and their employees with buy into the value system and use the
values as a vehicle to travel towards the company's mission and vision (David M.Taylor, 2008).

Ethics

Ethics refers to moral principles, as of an individual (dictionary.com, 2009) or defined as the


moral choices a person makes, and what he or she should do. It is based on an individual’s belief
about what is right and wrong, good or bad (DuBrin J. Andrew, 2002).

Companies are incorporating ethics into their training as it’s a subject that can go hand-in-hand
with business and when employees and CEO’s alike understand what ethics are about, business
can improve. Not only will the community take note of the ethical nature of a business but also
so will customers (Myron, 2004).

Organisational Culture

It is the combined beliefs, ethics, values, procedures and atmosphere of an organisation that
create the organisational culture (liam2008mauritius, 2009). It is crucial for the organisation to
have a set of values its employees have to follow. Without these set of values, there may be an
increased risk of employees making unethical decisions, increased tendency to report violations
to outside regulatory authorities since they lack adequate internal forum and inability to recruit
and retain top people (Shawn Smith, 2002). These unethical decisions and actions may threaten
the future of the entire organisation (Shawn Smith, 2003).
Importance of values and ethic in the workplace

Why are values and ethics important in the workplace? In the organisation’s point of view, they
get a higher degree of employee loyalty, tending to attract better talent and retaining their
employees longer (Sherren Joseph, 2005). On the employee’s point of view, values and ethics in
the workplace allows employees to attain higher job satisfaction, motivation, organizational
commitment, work performance (Dries Berings, Filip De Fruyt, Rene Bouwen, 2004). It also
simplifies an employee’s decision making process, guides them on how to make good decision
and creates something stable that employees can count on in an ever-changing business
environment (Doug Dwyer, 2006). Individuals themselves have different value systems. When
an individual is faced with an ethical dilemma, his or her value system will colour the perception
of the ethical ramifications of the situation. Therefore organizations would function more
efficiently if the entire workforce agreed on what was moral behaviour and what was not, at least
with respect to the conduct of business (Finegan, Joan, 1994).

Corporate Values

Doug Dwyer (2006) wrote that putting corporate values in writings and integrating them into the
company culture will produce tremendous results and Joan Finegan (2009) mentioned that 80%
of major corporations have used a code of ethics to convey their policy on ethical behaviour in
the organization as it offers guidelines against which unethical behaviour can be judge. When
everything else in the workplace is uncertain, a strong grounding in ethical values will help
provide the consistency to keep the company on course (Shawn Smith, 2003).

Open Communication

By establishing an open communication in the organisation, employees are more comfortable to


sharing their opinions and views to the management, which results in better ethical values
displayed in the company. As discussed by Shawn Smith (2002), formal or informal training
should be conducted to further sensitize employees to potential ethical issues in the organisation
as many of the ethical problems arising in a business are not clear cut. A point of contact should
also be formed so that employees can go and ask questions in confidence about the work
situations they encounter.

Findings

From an interview conducted with an employee from an IT company in Singapore, ethical values
have been known to be very important in a workplace. It creates a correct culture, enhances the
integrity level in the company and creates a better workplace for everyone who works in the
company.

The management of the company are open to discussions or feedbacks from the employees and
takes the feedbacks into serious considerations. If the feedback is not in line with the company’s
plans, the employers will take time to explain the reasons for declining the feedback, thus
creating an ‘open door’ concept. Periodical meetings are also held with the employees to share
with them the company’s direction and roadmap, giving employees a sense of belonging as well
as an update on their career progress in the company.

In the interview, there were several factors which contributed to an employee’s behaviour at
work. The trust of the employers in the employee’s capability and the ‘open door’ concept
mentioned above was some of factors mentioned. An employee’s behaviour at work is also said
to be influenced by what their colleagues or superiors are doing because when the superiors set a
good example to their staff /colleagues by clearing their doubts for a particular issue, the
employees will slowly look up to them for advise and for future direction, creating a better work
environment for the employee.

Similarities

There were general agreement between the literature found and the opinions given in the
interview. Comparing the definitions given in literature and the opinions given by the
interviewee, it is somewhat similar. In the literature researched, ethical values were defined as
core beliefs or desire that guide or motivate attitude and actions ethics based on an individual’s
belief about what is right and wrong, good or bad and from the opinion given in the interview,
the interviewee considers values as doing things that are not morally wrong and in the best
interest of the company.

The interviewee also added that workplace values and ethics create a correct culture in the
company and it enhances the integrity level within the working environment in the company.
When the workers have the correct ethics toward their work and colleagues, it creates a better
workplace and improves team work. This proves to be similar to the literature text which
mentioned that values and ethics in the workplace allows employees to attain higher job
satisfaction, motivation, organizational commitment and work performance.

The ‘open-door’ concept brought up in the interview was also similar to the literature text
researched. In the text, better ethical values are being displayed in the company when an open
communication is being established. Therefore, the ‘open-door’ concept is proven to be similar
as it is about providing feedbacks and having discussions to the management and the
management taking considerations about the feedbacks provided.

Reflections

Through this paper, I have found that the trend of workplace values and ethics has greatly
influenced the way employees behave in an organisation as values and ethics plays a huge part in
ensuring that an organisation ‘looks well’ to the public as well as their shareholders. It also
allows the employees to work in a better environment which would result in higher profits and
company loyalty for the organisation.
In my opinion, the information above highly important to Singaporean people as Singapore is
made up of a multicultural mix. The mingling of races and cultures has produced a globalised
city that differs from all the rest. Each culture has adopted a bit of other cultures practices,
deviating from the original practices of their ancestor’s home-countries, and thus producing a
unique culture of its own. With an increasing level of diversity, it will result in implications of
workplace values and ethics of each individual due to the interaction between people, their
behaviour and attitude.

There are also a lot of expats working here. By having good corporate ethical values displayed in
the company, it will give expats working in Singapore a good impression of the country. Thus,
allowing more business opportunity for the company.

In conclusion, the challenges of ethic and values will evolve as globalisation continues, therefore
it is important that employees know their own ethical standings and contribute to the business
values and ethics by communicating openly to help the organisation to be more ethical. Not only
will it create a better work environment for the employees, it also creates a good public image to
the organisation.

Word count: 1527


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