Kancharla, R. and Dadhich, A. (2020), “Perceived ethics training and workplace behavior: The mediating role of perceived ethical culture,” European Journal of Training and Development. https://www.emerald.com/insight/2046-9012.htm
Background & Theory:
Employees often feel a lack of commitment to companies with unhealthy company cultures. Therefore, it is imperative for organizations to create company cultures rooted in healthy values. This study focuses on the role of ethics training in promoting an ethical company culture and positive workplace behavior.
Research was conducted by Raviteja Kancharla et al. to answer the following questions:
- What is the relationship between ethics training and perceived ethical culture?
- What is the relationship between ethics culture and workplace behavior?
- Does ethical culture mediate the relationship between ethics training and workplace behavior?
175 participants from construction companies in India filled out a questionnaire measuring perceptions of ethics training, ethical culture, and workplace behavior. The participants worked as HR managers, project managers, and in other senior-level managing positions. Both five-point and seven-point Likert scales were utilized in the questionnaire.
For the purposes of this study, ethics training was defined as training that helps shape the behavior and attitudes of employees in ways that fit with high ethical values. Past studies have regarded ethics training as a primary method to increase ethical decision making and behavior of employees. Ethical training is often given to leadership, encouraging management to consider the ethical nature of their decisions. In this study, ethics training was measured through questions relating to employee perception of ethical standards within their company.
This study utilized Trevino et al.’s definition of ethical culture: “a subset of organizational culture, representing a multidimensional interplay among various ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ systems of behavioral control that are capable of promoting either ethical or unethical behavior” (Trevino, 1998). Trevino et al.’s 11-item scale of ethical culture was implemented here as well.
Workplace behavior was defined as a combination of three elements: job satisfaction, employee commitment, and intention to stay. Each of these elements was measured through questionnaire items validated by past studies.
The results showed that ethics training was positively related to perceived ethical culture. In tandem, ethical culture was positively related to workplace behavior. Ethics training also displayed a significant positive relationship with workplace behavior. The findings also indicated that ethical culture partially mediates the relationship between ethics training and positive workplace behavior. While ethics training was significantly related to job satisfaction and employee commitment, there was no such relationship with intent to stay. This points to a potential benefit of ethics training in the workplace. If operated through ethical culture, ethics training has the potential to enhance positive workplace behavior such as job satisfaction and employee commitment.
What We Can Learn:
Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insight:
- Trainings focused on organizational ethics may contribute to a greater ethical culture and by extension, positively influence job satisfaction and organizational commitment.
For Consultants: Trainings revolving around ethical considerations in the workplace can influence organizational culture in ways that make employees more satisfied at work and more committed to their organization.
For Everyone: Organizational culture is a huge part of employee job satisfaction. Consider hiring a conflict consulting company to offer trainings that can improve organizational culture and daily work life for employees.