What can business leaders do to promote integrity in the workplace?
C.J Lewis once rightly quoted, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” No matter how advanced workplaces get, integrity is a virtue that you would always want from your employees. You would want your employees to be true to themselves and their job roles. To put it in other words, integrity does not have any other substitute. If your employees compromise their integrity to meet their tasks today, they may even cheat the organization tomorrow. Having said that, integrity in the workplace is one of the essential values. Even when organizations go remote in a complete sense, integrity will still have its significance.
Moving forward, employees can work hard and incorporate various skills into their personas. However, integrity is a work ethic that is a virtue of an individual’s character. You cannot train someone for integrity if honesty and character do not naturally come to them. It is a value that you will need to reinforce in the workplace every day. Doing so will inspire integrity in your employees and help them understand the imperativeness of it. You should promote it in a way that they are convinced not to let go of their moral character in the name of success or achievements.
The real question is, “how can you promote integrity in the workplace?” Being a business leader, every dimension of change in company culture begins with you. In fact, employees often look up to leaders to learn and develop their personalities. So, if you can manifest it for them how they can hold on to their integrity, you will be able to create an ideal workplace culture. In the longer run, your employees’ integrity will determine the success of your business. In this post, we shed light on the various ways in which you can inspire integrity in the workplace. When you lead the pursuit of integrity as an efficient leader, positive changes are bound to happen.
Ways in which you promote integrity in the workplace
1. Refine your hiring practices
Even today, a lot of organizations have a filter of integrity embedded in their hiring practices. Do you evaluate candidates for integrity and moral righteousness as well? If you do not, it is time you bring slight overhauls in your hiring strategies. In addition to talent, expertise, and experience, a candidate’s character and integrity are vital too. A candidate’s integrity will have a direct correlation with their commitment and diligence to your business.
You do not want people who will pretend to be someone else to crack the interview. You rather want individuals who are self-confident and are truthful to themselves. If they will be truthful to themselves, they will commit honesty to the organization as well. Having said that, you need to evaluate candidates for their integrity. For that, you can give them open-ended scenarios to consider and see the honesty with which they answer them. Moreover, you should look to have deeper insights into a candidate to test their characters. This little tweak in hiring will help you create a workforce that embraces integrity and model it for others.
2. Model integrity for your team members
As a business leader, the prerogative lies in you to lead by example. How you conduct yourself in the workplace and how you exhibit integrity are crucial. It will have an impact on the learning and behavioral traits of your employees. You cannot expect your employees to hold on to their integrity if you look at it as an obsolete obligation. You have to model it for your employees by making integrity an uncompromising virtue in your business strategies and leadership duties.
They should feel inspired looking at your uninterrupted coherence with integrity. Moreover, sometimes integrity may come at a price or lead to inevitable setbacks. To cite a small example, your company may lose a project bid for refusing to pay certain bribes. Such things may happen often when you put integrity above everything else. You also need to model for your team how one should be ready to pay the price for integrity. The advantages of integrity outweigh the small demerits, and you have to lead this thought by example. Hence, integrity should radiate at individual levels, team levels, and organizational levels. When employees see their leader take a stand for integrity, it will become a standard in the workplace.
3. Be approachable to your employees
In a conducive work environment, leaders are approachable to their staff. To promote integrity, you have to inspire the confidence in your employees that they can reach out to you. There would be times when they will be indecisive about choosing between integrity and targets. Likewise, there will be times when their colleagues will challenge their integrity. In such times, they should be able to approach you and express their dilemmas to you. If anything in the workplace stops them from acting with integrity, they should be able to report it to you.
Also, it will allow your employees to share their feelings and emotions with you. As you try to go the extra mile to support them, they will show greater allegiance to company core values. Even if your business is in remote mode at present, your team members should not feel reluctant to contact you. There may be a host of things coming in the way of their integrity. You should be available to take cognizance of it and offer help. Also, to maintain integrity, it is critical to maintain efficient communication at all times. Communication will be more effective when employees are not hesitant to reach out to you.
4. Compensate your employees in a fair way
If there is parity in the workplace, employees would not feel the need to digress from the path of integrity. There is little chance that they would be dishonest when everyone gets fair compensation. However, when there is favoritism in the workplace, it can compel the victims of it to resort to unfair means of pulling others down and advancing their careers. If people feel that the organization or management has been unfair to them, they will begin to feel that the entire idea of integrity is worthless. Given that, you need to ensure that everyone gets fair treatment.
Everyone in the workplace should have equal entitlement to compensation and opportunities. This parity should exist irrespective of gender, ethnicities, and other differentiations. Fair treatment in itself is a motivator for staying honest to work and to the organization. To add, you should have good observational skills to identify any toxic virtues in the workplace. If there is bias, the influence of office politics, or discrimination in the office, you should address it. The sooner you identify and plug out these adverse developments, the lesser the impact will be.
5. Attract employees’ loyalty
To inspire integrity in the workplace, you need to win the loyalty of your employees. The greater the level of emotional engagement, the greater will be the motivation for integrity. Speaking of ways to foster emotional engagement, there are various strategies. You have to extend certain benefits to your team such that they commit their loyalty to the organization and you. These strategies would include the inculcation of empathy, gratitude, and a sense of belonging. As per the State of Workplace Empathy Report, 76 percent of workers anticipate greater empathy from their superiors.
In addition to the above, there are other employee expectations to cater to as well. Employees will align their loyalty and allegiance to the organization when they get career advancement opportunities. Also, the idea of wellness has become crucial for employees ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. You can appeal to their affection by supporting their wellness with a significant focus on mental health. As per the Mental Health Foundation, 14.7 percent of people battle mental health issues in the workplace. Having said that, when you support your employees in multifarious ways, they will stay truthful to the organization. This will also optimize your relationship with your employees. All these factors will promote high employee engagement in the ultimate sense.
6. Reward integrity
A well-defined and dynamic framework of rewards and recognition will always be beneficial. In fact, as per Hubspot, around 70 percent of workers opine that they will work much harder if they receive appreciation. This validates the fact that rewards and recognition act as perfect motivators for employees. Rewards will always be among the best ways to motivate and support employees. So, to inspire integrity in the workplace, you should reward those who portray integrity. Employees who reflect integrity in their behaviors and decisions ought to be recognized. It will set a benchmark of conduct and work ethics in the workplace.
When employees see their colleagues win appreciation for integrity, they will also feel the urge to pay more heed to integrity. It will give them a clear direction as to what is expected of them to win the appreciation of their leaders and grow their career advancement prospects. Having said that, a culture where integrity is rewarded is essential. It will be conducive to fostering the value of integrity and strong moral character in your employees. Your employees will have the perfect motivation to incorporate the ethic of integrity into their characters.
7. Discuss the right way of doing things
The essence of integrity lies in doing things the right way. Having integrity means choosing a path that is righteous and not necessarily easy. However, in the corporate pressure and the undying burden of project deadlines, these virtues begin to take a backseat. The contemporary corporate world features stiff competition and incessant work stress. From doing things the right way, the objective shifts to getting things done at any cost. Hence, it is vital that you have some candid discussions with your employees on integrity, morality, and the right way of doing things.
In these discussions, you should also shed light on the upsides of integrity. Tell them how you built an empire without ever compromising on integrity and how it pays in the longer run. You have to show integrity positively and tell them how integrity makes an organization different from others. There may be some freshers still trying to decode the relevance of integrity in the workplace. Such discussions can have a significant impact on them. Besides, these conversations will also express your staunch belief in integrity. Employees would know that it is ok to fail with integrity than to achieve something at its cost. Such casual yet conducive and influential interactions will promote integrity in a widespread manner.
To summarize, integrity is among the most vital ethics in the workplace. By creating a workforce that is true to integrity, you can streamline the growth of your business. Moreover, integrity will drive employees to be more responsible and accountable in the context of their job duties. As a leader, it is your duty to reinforce integrity and other ethics in the workplace. In doing so, you will have to lead from the front to create maximum impact. Furthermore, you will have to incite loyalty, emotional engagement, and allegiance in employees. To add, making integrity a hiring parameter and having discussions on its relevance are worthwhile strategies too.