|CEB Says Only 25 Percent Of Employees Trust That Their Colleagues Behave Ethically|
In 2017, CEB surveyed 5,000 employees on drivers of culture and found only 25 percent of employees believe their teammates and colleagues engage in and model the right ethical behaviors. So for many employees, what their teammates and colleagues say and do has a significant impact on their perceptions of culture.
For almost a decade, building a culture of integrity has been the most frequently cited goal of compliance executives. In fact, more than half stated it was their most critical objective in 2016. However, while this focus led to an increase in resources and training centered on improving corporate culture, these efforts have not meaningfully reduced the amount of misconduct present in organizations. An analysis of nearly 2 million employee responses on corporate culture and misconduct shows that in the last eight years, there has been a less than 1 percent decrease in the number of employees who observed misconduct at their organizations.
"Employees today do not believe their companies are any more ethical than they were eight years ago," said
A Two-Pronged Approach
Companies should not discount the impact of improving tone at the top. Using a top-down approach requires limited resources and ensures employees learn about culture from individuals that they know and trust. More than half of employees CEB surveyed believe that senior leaders engage in and model the right ethical behaviors, and 61 percent feel the same about their direct managers. However, those leader-level efforts are not enough if they aren't reinforced by the behaviors front-line employees sense and experience among their colleagues.
"Leaders need to model appropriate integrity and ethical behavior, but companies can't stop there," said Lee. "To trust that employees will behave with integrity at all times, leaders must also create an environment where a culture of integrity is consistently reinforced among front-line employees."
While culture seems intangible, it is measurable and efforts to improve it have a meaningful impact. CEB research shows employees from strong cultures of integrity are 90 percent less likely to observe misconduct and are more likely to report that which they do see. They are also more likely to over-perform on individual and team goals. There are financial opportunities, too – notably, companies with strong cultures of integrity have 10-year total shareholder returns, 7 percentage points higher than companies with low perceptions of integrity.
Make Meaningful Changes
Companies can improve trust between colleagues and improve corporate cultures by:
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Justin Lavelle, email@example.com, 703-912-7671