Ethics at Work Index: 79.6
The picture that emerges from this survey in the UK is positive in many ways. The vast majority of respondents say that honesty is practised always or frequently in their organisation, showing an upward trend compared to previous editions of the survey. The pressures felt by employees to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour seem to have slightly decreased and there has been a drop in those who say that they have been aware of misconduct at work.
However, the results also point towards some particular issues that organisations might want to consider going forward and which might improve some of the indicators about management’s ability to live up to their commitments to ethics. Concerns that nothing will be done about it are by far the main hurdle that prevents people from reporting the misconduct they have been aware of, and only half of the respondents in the UK say that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings. Loss of interpersonal interactions due to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown is the issue that British employees are more likely to be concerned about with regards to the future of the workplace.
- In 2021, 86% of British employees say that honesty is practised always or frequently in their organisation, which is in line with the global average (86%), and slightly up from 81% in 2018.
- The percentage of employees who have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour has decreased slightly in the UK compared to 2018 (10% vs 12%). The main sources of pressure for British employees come from time pressure/unrealistic deadlines, and being asked to take shortcuts, both at 31%.
- Employees in the UK are less likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work compared to 2018 (17% vs 24%). The global average is 18%.
- In the UK, 55% of employees that have been aware of misconduct at work have spoken up about it with management, another appropriate person, or through any other mechanism. In 2018, this percentage was 67%.
- The main reason why employees who have been aware of misconduct do not raise their concerns is that they did not believe that corrective action would be taken (62%).
- 45% of employees in the UK say that they have experienced retaliation after they raised concerns about misconduct. The global average is 43%.
- British employees who have spoken up about the misconduct they have been aware of are notably more likely than in 2018 to be satisfied with the outcome (65% vs 59%).
The ethics programme
- The percentage of employees in the UK who say that they are aware of each of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered has not changed substantially compared to 2018. Written standards of ethical business conduct are the most common and 70% of respondents are aware of this, which is 1 pp higher than in 2018.
Embedding ethics through a supportive environment
- In the UK, 71% of employees say that their line manager sets a good example of ethical business behaviour, 57% say that their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do, and 65% say that their line manager supports them in following their organisation’s standards of ethical behaviour. 67% say that senior management takes ethics seriously in their organisation, while 24% of British employees also say that their line manager rewards employees who get good results, even if they use practices that are ethically questionable.
- 74% of British employees say that their organisation acts responsibly in all its business dealings and 68% that it lives up to its stated policy of social responsibility.
- Only 50% of British employees say that issues of right and wrong are discussed in staff meetings. Of all countries surveyed, they are among the least likely to say so, alongside Germany (48%) and France (52%). 78% say that people in their organisation know what is expected of them in terms of ethical behaviour, 65% say that in their organisation decisions about people are made fairly.
- 60% say that their organisation disciplines employees who violate its ethical standards. The global average is 63%.
Current and future issues
- 35% of employees in the UK say that, considering their organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their opinion on how ethically their organisation behaves has improved. Only 7% say that it has worsened, while 57% say that it has stayed the same.
- With regards to the future of the workplace, the loss of interpersonal interactions due to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown is the issue that British employees are more likely to be concerned about (44%), followed by increased surveillance and monitoring in the workplace (38%).