Dr. Christopher Bauer

Article Summary:

A strong code of ethics can save training costs, improve customer service, allow for better hiring decisions, and help build your brand.

The Value of a Strong Code of Ethics

A great code of ethics creates HUGE value for your company or association.

Understandably, the value of an ethics code is usually discussed in terms of how much it will help reduce your organization's risk of ethics problems and all the costs related to those problems. There is, indeed, great value in that. However, if you know how to create an ethics code in the right way, that value is truly just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Here are just a few other of the less obvious but highly valuable benefits a well-written code of ethics will bring your organization:

1) A well-written code of ethics will save both training and oversight costs.
The better written an ethics code is, the more effectively it will let employees know - with both ease and clarity - what is expected of them on the job. It should guide them not just to follow the rules but will give them direction on what to do when there is no rule to follow. (To do this, you'll need to talk about core values every bit as clearly as you talk about behavioral expectations.) The more easily and effectively your code provides this type of solid guidance to your employees, the more substantial the training and oversight savings will be. That's because the expectations for employees' behavior will be far more clear and the ability of employees to monitor and judge the appropriateness of their own behavior will be greatly improved.

2) A strong code of ethics will improve customer service.
If your employees clearly know the values of your business and how to bring them to life throughout their workday, they will provide great service that is fully consonant with your objectives. A great code provides easily applied guides for helping employees treat customers properly, consistently, hopefully extraordinarily, and with your ideals clearly in mind. Does better customer service have huge value for your business? Obviously!

3) You will make better hiring decisions with a code of ethics in mind.
Great hiring is certainly about ascertaining more than the technical knowledge and interpersonal skills of the applicants. It is also about attaining the best possible employee/employer 'fit'. Wouldn't your team work better if everyone's working style and agenda clearly and consistently reflected the core values of your company? Yet how can you possibly interview around those values until they are clearly laid out? Wouldn't it be helpful to know if your applicants share - or, at the very least, can appropriately understand - your values before bringing them into your business? Here again, that won't be possible until those values are laid out as clearly and concisely as possible. Once done, it can easily help with your hiring and it is a given that better hiring will create better teamwork and reduced turnover so there tremendous value in using your ethics code and values statement in that way.

4) A great ethics code will help build your brand.
Your brand is presumably a whole lot more than just your logo. It is the unique value or experience you bring to your customers. Your ethics and values provide the underpinning of how your company relates to its customers and potential customers. Looked at in that light, your ethics code - once both values-based and correctly written - will be integral to building your brand . It says, for all to see, who you are and what you stand for. Does building your brand have huge value? Your business depends on it!

Can you get by with a crummy ethics code? Sure. Even very successful companies and associations have been doing it forever. Is that a good reason for leaving your code as it is? Hardly. You have the chance to add the incredible value provided by the examples above - and there are plenty of others. Why would you not make the modest investment required to develop a truly great code of ethics? The potential return on that investment is enormous.

Christopher Bauer is a licensed psychologist with over twenty-five years of experience as an author, trainer, speaker, and consultant in the field of ethics. He helps companies and associations of all sizes build and maintain top-notch workplace ethics through dynamic keynotes and seminars. Dr. Bauer's latest top-selling book is titled "Better Ethics NOW: How To Avoid The Ethics Disaster You Never Saw Coming (Second Edition)". He also publishes a free "Weekly Ethics Thought" available on his website at Bauer Ethics Seminars.

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