Ethics are the foundation for success in every business. Without solid ethics, a business' reputation falters, and without a solid reputation, a business' financial performance falters. Thus, it is important that all businesses motivate ethical behavior from the CEO, all the way down to front line workers. However, it is difficult to motivate ethical behavior using moral principles alone. To motivate ethical behavior effectively in a group, you must illustrate the consequences that unethical behavior can have for a business and its employees.
Write a list of ethical objectives for the group. These objectives will naturally vary, depending on the group's business objectives. For a customer service group, write ethical objectives that describe proper ways to treat customers (with honesty, compassion, empathy). For a marketing group, write ethical objectives that prohibit false marketing and other deceptive practices. Tailor these objectives to the needs of the group. See the U.S. Department of Trade publications for ideas on objectives (see resources).
Compile a portfolio of case studies, with each case study featuring examples of ethical and unethical behavior. There are many places where such case studies may be found. Some of these include newspapers, academic search engines (e.g., Academic Search Premier), and business school textbooks. Ask your local library about how to obtain a card; a library card will give you access to all these resources and more.
Read the relevant case studies with the group. Get the students to take turns reading passages. Discuss the passages after they've been read aloud. Ask students to identify situations where ethical transgressions led to poor results.
Explain to the group how ethics ties in with the goals of the organization. Come up with examples of how unethical behavior could lead to financial trouble. For example, you could talk about how if a customer is deceived about a product's warranty, then that customer might stop shopping at your store, or how a CEO who defrauds his company might be sent to jail.
Set up a reward system for reporting unethical behavior. Provide incentives for employees who report serious ethical transgressions. These incentives could include prizes, cash bonuses, or paid time off. Anything that encourages employees to report bad behavior could work.
Create and use memorable phrases for ethical behavior. Choose phrases that can be integrated into the company's day-to-day vocabulary, such as slogans and cheers. If your company has a morning cheer or pep routine, include the ethical slogans in it. If your company uses acronyms to communicate information, create an acronym for ethical policies -- and use it regularly.
Put up posters that promote ethical behavior. It is best to design these posters yourself, since generic motivational posters often come across as cheesy. Use simple imaging programs (e.g., Microsoft Paint) and word processors (e.g., Microsoft Word, or OpenOffice) to write large words on 8.5" x 11" posters, which remind employees of the company's ethical objectives. Include ethical objectives and slogans on these posters in text.