A Podcast of this blog post is available at http://bit.ly/nHlVzO
In a previous blog, Hello, I Must be Going – Employee Engagement in a Recovering Economy, I suggested some ways that management could enhance employee engagement. That discussion was focused on retention of employees that drive the success of the firm. The short list included communicating the company’s strategy and goals, developing a sense of community, recognition, and supported development plans. Click on the link above for a more detailed discussion of these topics.
EthiCorVigilance and Integriology (ECV&I) or Ethical Corporate Vigilance and Integriology (my term – study of integrity) is the practice and processes necessary to not just retain top performers; it is the defining set of ethics and values that gains the maximum benefit from these employees. Engaged employees recommend their company to friends and family and take pride in working there. They are willing to go the extra mile for their organization, making it possible for the company to do more with less. They can be counted on to make independent decisions and take action in ways that are consistent with the company’s culture, objectives, and values. They require less supervision and direction and adapt easily to changing roles and responsibilities. Employee engagement can be linked to observation of the company’s commitment to Ethical behaviors and demonstrated processes that support Ethical conduct.
In a 2009 National Business Ethics Survey from the Ethics Resource Center and the Hay Group, a key finding showed that “positive perceptions of an organization’s ethical culture are associated with higher levels of engagement. Furthermore, management’s commitment to ethics is particularly important for employee engagement”. Their key takeaway was “given the profound connection between a com¬pany’s ethical culture and employee engage¬ment, managers should work actively to demonstrate a commitment to ethics, foster open communication, promote ethical role modeling, and encourage accountability.”
Ethics are central to situations where “the right thing to do” is in question, and the outcome of the decision affects many people including employees and customers. Identifying the “right thing” is often a complex challenge that in¬volves identifying conflicting responsibilities to a wide range of stakeholders. Challenging every employee to act as ethicists and keep the company’s core values in sight provides an opportunity for each employee to see their contribution in the larger picture of the company’s public profile and brand in the marketplace. As each person experiences their unique contribution to building the company brand through ethical and value driven behaviors, employee engagement is amplified.
Some questions that every organization should grapple with are
1. Can every employee identify one or more key executives who have proven to uphold the company values?
2. Does the company have the right values in place to guide them in a difficult situation or crisis?
3. Will the company be proud of their core values if exposed to a critical public, government agency, or customer segment?
4. Which values will the extended stakeholders of the company expect in challenging or crisis situations?
It’s not enough to talk about “company culture” when a firm says that their culture is a defining competitive advantage. The company must come forth with their value statements, articulated by senior executives and board members. It must be instilled in every manager and employee through training and measurement of adherence to ethical and value driven behaviors. The growing power of social media, which provides a platform for employees to share their perspective with a wide audience, greatly amplifies employ¬ees’ impact in the marketplace, and creates both opportunity and risk. It is imperative that every employee experiences ethics and values through the consistent behaviors, decisions, and actions of every member of the leadership team.
EthiCorVigilance and Integriology (ECV&I) must be the overarching and sustainable practice for enhancing brand awareness and creating proud and passionate employees wanting nothing short of amassing competitive market success creating strong career opportunities and growth. Done well, ECV&I will create an ethical culture that indeed creates a unique competitive advantage.