When deciding whether they should purchase from your business, consumers will take a variety of factors into account. The obvious ones come to mind which includes convenience, value, and quality. However, trust also seems to be increasingly important.
In one survey, more than 80% of customers named ‘trust’ as one of the top factors they take into consideration before choosing to buy. This emphasis on a company’s reputation is clearly important – but many business leaders don’t seem to have got the message.
This statement is backed up by research conducted by the Chartered Management Institute. In this survey, it was revealed a third of managers lie at least once a day at work. Furthermore, around 80% of workers didn’t think their employer set a good moral example.
Ultimately, this has a trickle-down effect. The staff, which see poor examples of behavior from managers typically emulate what they’ve seen. This can lead to dishonest conduct at work which can affect the company as a whole.
Considering people make up a business – and have an effect on its values and identity – ensuring managers are ethical should be top priority. After all, companies that start falling short of moral standards will eventually suffer the repercussions. This can lead to reputational damage which, ultimately, damages the bottom line.
Employers can no longer afford to take a back-seat approach when it comes to ethics and honesty as – due to COVID-19 – they are under more scrutiny than ever.
Although the UK seems to be over the worst of coronavirus – with many places coming out of lockdown – the spring and summer months were a time of great uncertainty. Public health took priority as sacrifices were made across the economy.
This has not been without consequence. The country is now in a state of recession and thousands of people remain furloughed or have had their jobs terminated. Yet, during this time, some companies have been shining examples of what to do – putting the safety of their staff first while adapting to the ‘new normal’.
When the dust of COVID-19 settles, it’s these firms that will have earnt the trust of the consumer. However, for every company which has acted ethically, it seems many more are flouting government guidance. Businesses have been caught committing such acts as asking furloughed workers to volunteer their time or sending staff back to work in unsafe conditions.
The nature of the internet – and the ability for anyone to become a whistle-blower – means employers acting unethically or lying to the government about furloughed staff are often discovered quickly.
Coronavirus forced employers to make many fast decisions. However, this is the period where managers must determine what customers will be saying about their business now that life is slowly returning to normal (or new normal).
The actions you took during the pandemic will affect your reputation. As well as affecting customer sentiment, this also influences your current and future talent. The workforce will remember and may choose to jump ship long term.
However, it’s more than that. Statistically, employees who rate their bosses as having high integrity are more likely than others to be satisfied in their work and have a reduced chance of being absent or suffer from stress.
In contrast, those who described their employer as not being honest are more likely than others to have work-family conflict, go absent from work, suffer from stress, or hunt for new employment.
The benefits are clear, so why do some business leaders suffer from an honesty problem?
Am I Honest? Honestly?
With the bottom line at stake, it’s worth reviewing whether or not you’re as honest as you think you are. The first place to start is with yourself. Although we may believe we’re doing the right thing, it’s hard to determine this without a benchmark. Ask your peers, staff, or manager if they feel you’re ethical.
Alternatively, consider ethical schools of thought to evaluate your choices. This could include such examples as virtue ethics, consequentialism, and deontology.
In those cases, these depend on your ability to be honest with yourself. For some people, this is harder than any form of management.
Business Roles in Shaping Ethics
Trust is now a crucial factor when consumers decide whether to buy from a business. Although the coronavirus pandemic has been a test, it won’t be the only one facing employers. Companies are generally well-placed to influence society with causes and charitable occasions leaders can participate in.
Alternatively, organizations can strive to be honest and transparent with their customers. Consolidation Express, for example, has been warning consumers about firms falsely advertising government debt consolidation – a service that doesn’t exist.
A business must have values to be successful. Honesty is a good place to start. After all, your consumers and staff demand it.
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