PEOPLE at work have to deal with different concerns every day.  Some of these may be issues of ethics. At one point in time, they may find themselves being asked to do something they disagree with or may be aware of co-workers engaging in some unethical beha­viors. These are common at the workplace.

Ethics simply means ‘doing the right thing’ and must be present at work in order to regulate behaviour, simply because it is good for the business and for the employees. A worker is considered unethical if he/she manifests a behavior that violates the law, such as theft or violence; or disregards company policies like tampering with documents and daily time records, misuse of pro­5perties or company time, pilferage, misuse of funds or even cruelty to co-employees.

Theft includes misuse of company funds, such as using funds for personal purposes or buying things without the permission of management.  This also includes pilferage– the action of stealing things of little value, such as plastic trash liners, bond papers, adaptors, for sale items, kitchen stocks, and the like.

Tampering of documents is another violation that must be reported immediately. Intentional misdeclaration of receipts, daily time records and other similar documents must not be tolerated. In essence, this is associated to theft which means stealing from the company.

Maltreating co-workers is common too, and this is a clear manifestation of unethical behavior. At times, those who do not connive with unethical employees suffer from harassment. Normally, the ones who stick to their morals are treated badly and become victims of unethical employees. This must be dealt with immediately as the revenge could progress from verbal to physical harassment.

Additionally, employees like purchasers, sales associates, liaison officers and the like, who are sent on field have the tendency to use company time for their personal businesses. While they declare that they are doing official businesses, in reality, they go around doing other things not related to their job. Odd as it may be, there are times that they spend company time working on their other sidelines and extra-curricular activities. Similarly, this is also true for those who use company time for their personal activities and transactions like Facebook, Instagram, engaging in unnecessary calls, writing love letters and diaries.  This is a clear indication of misappropriate use of company time where the erring employees are fully paid by the company for the day. This is stealing time from the company.

Generally, workers know what is moral and not as they have been oriented after being hired; and normally, company rules are clearly stated. However, even with this reality, unethical behavior can still be found in all types of businesses and can be prevalent. It is challenging to deal with this kind of behaviour. It requires the courage to act, which can be difficult if the wrong behavior comes from a manager or from co-workerss who have become close friends.

Management encourages employees to report unethical behaviour at work, however, there are still many cases which remain unreported because colleagues have the fear of retaliation or the possibility of losing his/her job or their friendship. While this is true, it is important to remember that all workers have an obligation to report possible unethical behaviours, or they will continue to be tolerated and remain unpunished.

Consequently, what do you do when you observe unethical practices of colleagues at the workplace? According to,  here are the steps in reporting unethical behaviour at work:

  1. Do not take action without evidence. Before you do anything, you need to make sure you know the facts. You need to record the wrong behaviour. You may need proof or witnesses of the actions. The more evidence you have, like CCVT clips, voice mails, emails, documents, files and testimonials you gather, the stronger your case.
  2. Report the unethical behaviour to your supervisor. The first line of reporting such incidents or actions is with your direct boss. Your boss is trained to manage situations and know how to diffuse or escalate as necessary. If the manager is the one violating, report to administrators or owners.
  3. Contact your organization’s confidential compliance or ethics department or officer. Some companies have a hotline or email address where you can anonymously leave a message. If you leave your message anonymously, the investigator will not be able to contact you for further discussion or provide you with any follow-up or outcomes from the report.
  4. Go directly to Human Resources if you suspect a serious legal or policy breach. If the unethical beha­viour violates policy or even the law, you have an obligation to report it. Every company’s HR department is equipped to handle unethical behaviour reports and consult with legal counsel, quality and auditing departments and other management as necessary. HR is also able to impose warnings, demotions and firings as the situation warrants. Lastly, HR policies will protect you from retaliation, should any occur.

Unethical behaviour has serious consequen­ces for both individuals and organizations. Failure to fulfill this legal duty to report, or impe­ding some-one from doing so is a offence in itself and may be considered as a ‘misdemeanor’ (wrongdoing/ misdeed). You can lose your job and reputation. Furthermore, organizations can lose their credibility, general morale and productivity can decline, or the behaviour can result in significant fines and/or financial loss.

Comments are closed.