Ethics at Work Index: 83.2
Swiss employees’ views of ethics at work have improved in some important ways compared to 2018. For example, employees are more likely than in the past to be aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme and less likely to feel pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour. Retaliation against those who raise their concerns about misconduct is significantly less common in Switzerland than in other countries.
However, the percentage of Swiss employees who are aware of misconduct and raise their concern is lower than in 2018 and among the lowest of all countries surveyed. Furthermore, only a small majority of respondents say that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings and the percentage of those who say that their view of how ethically their organisation behaves has improved after Covid-19 is lower than in other countries. The provision of the formal elements of an ethics programme, which, despite the improvements in the past three years, are still lower in Switzerland than in other countries, might help to address some of these issues. Looking ahead, the loss of interpersonal interactions due to new technologies or to the effects of Covid-19 are the issues that concern Swiss employees the most.
- Swiss employees’ views about how frequently honesty is practised in their place of work have notably improved in the past three years, increasing from 75% in 2018 to 91% in 2021.
- The percentage of employees who have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour has decreased in Switzerland compared to 2018 (3% in 2021 compared to 16% in 2018). Out of the 13 countries surveyed, Swiss employees are among the least likely to say so, alongside the Netherlands (6%), Germany (6%) and France (9%). The main source of pressure for Swiss employees is time pressure/unrealistic deadlines (35%), followed by wanting to help the organisation perform better and following their boss’s orders (both at 31%).
- Employees in Switzerland are less likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work compared to 2018 (15% vs 27%). This is the lowest level ever recorded in Switzerland. The global average is 18%.
- Only 41% of employees in Switzerland that have been aware of misconduct at work have spoken up about it with management, another appropriate person, or through any other mechanism. This figure is lower than in 2018 (58%) and among the lowest of all countries surveyed, alongside Portugal (46%) and Spain (49%).
- The main reason why Swiss employees do not raise their concerns is that they felt it might jeopardise their job (30%).
- They are also among the least likely to experience retaliation after they raised concerns about misconduct (28%), alongside their Spanish colleagues (32%).
- Swiss employees who have spoken up about the misconduct they have been aware of are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome compared to 2018 (57% vs 41%). The global average is 62%.
The ethics programme
- Compared to 2018, employees in Switzerland are more likely to say that they are aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered. The biggest increase has been recorded in relation to the provision of a helpline about behaving ethically (37% vs 26% in 2018).
- However, they are still not as common as in other countries, in particular when it comes to ethics training. Only 36% of employees in Switzerland are aware of it being offered by their organisation, compared to a global average of 52%.
Embedding ethics through a supportive environment
- Employees in Switzerland generally have positive views on their line manager’s commitment to ethics. For example, 78% say that their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do (65% global average), while only 22% think that their line manager rewards employees who get good results even if they use practices that are ethically questionable (32% global average).
- 81% of employees in Switzerland say that their organisation acts responsibly in all its business dealings (76% global average) and 78% that it lives up to its stated policy of social responsibility (71% global average).
- 54% of Swiss employees say that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings (58% global average), 67% say that decisions about people are made fairly in their organisation (65% global average) and 79% say that people in their organisation know what is expected of them in terms of ethical behaviour (78% global average).
- 66% of Swiss employees say that their organisation disciplines employees who violate its ethical standards. The global average is 63%.
Current and future issues
- 21% of employees in Switzerland say that, considering their organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their opinion on how ethically their organisation behaves has improved (global average 37%). Only 8% say that it has worsened, while 68% say that it has stayed the same.
- With regards to the future of the workplace, the loss of interpersonal interactions due to new technologies is the issue that Swiss employees are more likely to be concerned about (34%), followed by the loss of interpersonal interactions due to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown (33%).