Implementing An Ethics Program In Workplace Essay

Questions:

What Kind Of An Organization Do You Work In? What Do You Work There As?

Can You Tell A Little Bit More About Your Business Organization?

Are You Are Of The Policies And Procedures Of Your Business Organization?

What Influence Do These Policies Have On Your Professional Relationship With Your Peers, Superiors And Juniors?

What Happens If Someone At The Firm Intentionally Or Unintentionally Breaches The Code? Are There Any Legal Implications To It?

How Does The Company Introduce Or Inform The Employees With Its Codes And Policies?

Does The Company Require Its Employees To Complete Continual Professional Education?

Answers:

Introduction

In any profession, there is always a set of rules or guidelines that dictate acceptable behavior and a certain code of conduct in a professional or work environment. The idea is to gain insight into real life working environments and observe the implementation on professional code of conduct. “A code of conduct outlines ‘how to be professional” (Thai Library Association (TLA), 2012). For the purpose of this report, I have interviewed a friend of mine, who works in an accounting firm as an accounting consultant.

Answer- I work in an accounting firm as an accounting consultant.

Answer 2- The firm has about 60 employees including consultants, articles as well as interns. We do have a separate IT department.

Answer- Yes, there are certain policies and procedure in my business organization that need to be strictly adhered to. For example, we have very strict policies about the use of internet for work purposes and during office hours. Also, no employee or inter is allowed to use their own laptops. We are all provided workstations by the company.

Answer 3- Our firm has a very positive environment. All of the employees are expected to behave professionally and keep personal differences aside. The policies and procedures set a guideline for us and help us in bettering ourselves as professionals and in turn, bettering our firm every single day. Even so, there is a certain level of informality when employees become friends. This however, doesn’t come in the way of the level of professionalism at the firm.


Answer 4- Whenever a new employee or an intern joins the firm, he or she is oriented and trained for the first couple of days to make him/her accustomed to the working environment in our firm. They are told about the rules and regulations that are to be followed and are therefore expected to follow the code. It is the interns who are more likely to unintentionally breach codes, either because they don’t know or they’re not used to the working environment of the firm. More often than not, they are left off with a warning. Employees tend to stick to the codes. But of course, if someone is found intentionally breaching the code of conduct, especially in cases where there might be direct harm to the reputation, privacy or confidentiality of the firm, it can result the employee in losing his or her job. Personally, in my time at the firm, there has fortunately never been an incident where anything like this has happened. Although, there most definitely are going to be legal implications in addition to losing their job, if someone tries to intentionally harm the company in any way.

Answer 5- Interns are, like I said, trained for the first couple of days and told orally about the work environment etc. However, employees upon joining the firm are required to sign a contract wherein all the codes and policies are mentioned. These include everything from how they are expected to dress up formally, to the use of mobile phones or internet and personal laptops during work hours, copying data from office computers, strict use of employee emails for office use etc.

Answer 6- No, the company doesn’t force its employees to have additional degrees. Of course, if an employee wishes to do so, he is free to pursue continual professional education provided it does not affect his or her work and contribution to the firm.

Reflections upon the Interview

In any professional working environment, it is essential that the employees and the employers alike follow a certain code of conduct and professionalism. This sets a guideline as to what general behavior is expected from any person that joins the firm. There are a number of similarities as well as differences in the expectation which are discussed below.

Similarities

Being an accounting firm, one expects the business organization to be professionally adept. As told in the interview, the firm follows a certain set of rules and guidelines and expects its employees to do the same. These guidelines are essential in creating a professional environment in a business organization and bring in order to an otherwise chaotic and haphazard work system. When employees adhere to codes and procedures, they increase their market value. “Firms continue to offer competitive salaries to help attract proven candidates (Hays, 2017)”.

The first similarity was the expectation of being aware of the company policies and guidelines. As a professional, it is the duty of any employee to be well aware of what constitutes their work environment and what codes, ethics and policies are followed in their workplace. “The main drive of accounting ethics and ethical values is the upholding of professionalism and good practice (Murphy, 2016)”. Therefore, it becomes essential that an employee be professional and more importantly, aware of legal boundaries he may have as a professional as well as an individual.

Another similarity was the expectation of the implications one might have to face upon breaching the code of the company. “The first step in a code of conduct violation is the verbal warning (Bigelow, 2016)”. In most cases, if the damage is not too big, the employer will sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with the employee, explaining to him in detail what he should not have done and to be careful about it in case a similar situation arises in the future. This is similar to what was found in the interview. In case the employee keeps on repeatedly doing what he’s told not to, the employer then issues a written warning and may even suspend the employee for a short period of time ranging from a few days to over a month. Even after this, if the employee is found indulging in flouting the codes and guidelines, his job contract is terminated and the employee is fired.

In a professional environment, one should always be ready for legal implications in case he or she intentionally or repeatedly breaches a company’s professional code of conduct, a legal action can be taken against them. As noted above from the interview, any employee intentionally harming the working and reputation of the company shall face legal consequences in addition to losing his job.

Dissimilarities

The only dissimilarity in expectations was the fact that the employs at the firm were not very affected in their personal relationships due to the professional conduct. This is a very rare sight. Most employees working together become friends and there are also scenarios where the workforce gets divided into groups of people who have similar backgrounds, race, castes etc. as they tend to be on the same level of understanding as their “group mates”. Very often such scenarios can create unwanted situations and hampered growth and not much progress is seen when it comes to working together as a team. “It is critical to establish the professional and personal boundaries as early as possible and as clearly as possible (Alexander, 2015)”. When individuals learn how to manage their personal and professional lives, work environments see amazing growth and results. It is imperative that individuals in any business organization be taught how to have a balanced relationship with their peers, seniors and juniors and how to effectively solve any personal or professional issues that may arise.

Theoretically speaking, “The behavioral and ethical regulations of each job are the most important policies (Khani, 2014)” in an organization. But in the real world, things might be different and “among the agencies there still remain breaches of the Code” (Sumretpholb, 2017). While employees may sometimes either be unaware or intentionally try to breach the company’s policies, the company is always more alert and strict about its codes and procedures. “The effectiveness of enforcement, however, may vary because of a code's specificity and because of limitations in sanctions available to the code's governing body (Perlis C, 2012)”.

Reflections on what this means for me

From a student’s perspective, there’s a lot that can be learned from a real-world experience. There is a wide gap, an extreme difference from what one is taught in theory, and how things actually work in the real world. “A competent professional accountant in business is an invaluable asset to the company (Len Jui, 2013)”. Therefore, it is imperative that the employee be aware of the company’s codes and policies and act accordingly. It is also important that any business organization make its employees aware of the guidelines and expected behavior.

There are a number of things to be noticed, understood and learned as to why having a set of policies and guidelines is important and how they help in the functioning of a business organization. These are all discussed in detail below.

The first and most important thing for a person working in a company is to be aware of the policies and procedure which he or she is legally bound by. A business organization’s policies and procedures are created to give direction and guidance to its workers. It “defines behavior expectations for both management and other employees (Admin, 2009)”. It is essential as in any working environment, very often the employees as well as the managerial staff come across certain situations that are filled with confusion and ambiguity, and therefore require that immediate decision making. “The issue of what is wrong or right comes up on a daily basis (Akadakpo & Enofe, 2013)” and it is because of this that many professional business organizations feel the need to set up policies that guide its workers and sets standards for professional behavior. “A code of ethics is essential to a profession (Johnson, 2010)”. Along with setting guidelines, policies and codes also help in defining acceptable behavior at the workplace. Formal dress code, use of the company’s property, and respecting the privacy and confidentiality in a professional environment are all examples of the same.

In addition to being aware of the policies, it is essential that workers in any business organization handle their personal and professional relationships with care. It becomes difficult to adhere to formalities when working with friends or when employees become friends. It also becomes difficult to give constructive feedback when personal relationships are given more importance. In a business organization, many people “don’t think strategically about how to cultivate meaningful connections (Clark, 2014)”. Therefore, it is important to have a conversation with your peers, seniors or juniors in order to have productivity in the business as well as manage personal relationships outside of the work environment. “Business is personal, and relationships do matter (Goudreau, 2014)”.

Another thing to notice is that if a company’s policies are not taken seriously, an individual may end up losing their job. In addition to this there are also legal consequences that one might have to face. “Two examples of breaches in a code include confidentiality and conflict of interest breaches (Kraft, 2015)”. An employee must never try to breach a company’s codes and policies intentionally. Mistakes happen every now and then. But one should not intentionally hamper the working of an organization. “Anyone who intentionally violates the code is guilty of a class A misdemeanor (Norman-Eady, 2005)” and can be fined as much as $2000 in addition to being sent to prison.

Companies and business organizations must also take it into their hands to ensure that their employees are well aware of the policies of the business. This involves communicating to the employees everything they need to know about the company before getting started. In some small business organizations, employees are given oral instructions as to how to get started, the rules to be followed, and things or behaviors that need to be avoided. “Managers should be aware that individuals may require advice and guidance on regulatory questions (independent.co.uk, 2017)”. In most large scale business organizations, employees are made to sign contracts and given induction training and packages. “The induction package may include a training manual, mission statement, work health and safety information (© The State of Queensland 1995–2017, 2016)”. Some companies also provide, online training and one-on-one training sessions to get the employees accustomed to the company’s working environment.

Conclusion

Professional practice in accounting has a lot of value. In theory, policies “govern one’s relationships with their fellow members and potential clients (pearson canada, 2012)”. In reality, it is not always the case. Not every single person working in an organization gives as much importance to its policies as the company does. This is wrong and must be aptly dealt with. Regulation of policies and procedures in a company “enables one to refrain from such activities that may discredit to their profession (Siddiqui, 2016)”.

It is essential for the people working in a firm to be aware of the company’s policies, its code of conduct, and the overall working environment. Failing this, an employee as well as an employer could have a number of unwanted and negative implications ranging from a bad first impression on a client to losing one’s job. It is not just the employee’s duty to be aware of the company’s management, codes and policies but also the company’s job to put in effort to train, teach and educate its employees about the same. “Trust and transparency in conduct is ever more important (Goff, 2017)”. The “implementation should be actively monitored (© ICAEW 2017, 2017)”.

In addition to this, there are always certain legal implications involved as well. A company can sue its employee if he’s found intentionally breaching its policies and code of conduct. He or she may also be fined monetarily and be imprisoned.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that one must practice professional code of conduct in his work environment, irrespective of his role or status in the organization. By following the company’s policies, its employees as well as the employers show that they have respect towards the company as well as towards each other. Also, following the policies and codes result in a positive environment in the organization, which results in increased productivity, more efficiency and better environment overall. This also means that the people in the organization are capable of handling the problems that may arise in their work place in a smart way. A positive environment in the workplace results in growth, better focus on the job, timely delivery as well as better job satisfaction.

References

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