Ethics Training and Employee Needs 14:20, June 1, 2017

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Ethics Training and Employee Needs

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Maslow’s now-famous hierarchy of needs suggests that human beings must have their basic physiological and safety needs met before they can seek out higher-level psychological needs such as love, self-esteem, and creativity. This applies to the workplace. The influx of Millennials into the workplace, and research about the importance of values as a business driver, demand companies to be ethical. Ethics training can help. 

Millennials and Their Needs

We have previously written about how Millennials want to work at organizations that represent something greater than just profits. In essence, Millennials want to work for ethical companies. Professor Steven Mintz, also known as the “Ethics Sage,” takes it one step further. He suggests that Millennials don’t just want ethics, they need it. “Millennials place purpose ahead of profits. They value social entrepreneurship. They ask: What does the employer stand for? What is their purpose in meeting the needs of stakeholders? How can this contribute to my need for meaning and maximizing my inner potential?” A company that answers these questions for their employees is meeting a basic need.

Research supports Mintz’s theory. Leadership is responsible for building out what their company stands for, and the value they provide both employees and customers. This “tone at the top” is critical for effective ethics and compliance programs. And employee’s individual sense of meaning and purpose must be connected to that of the company’s. “Research has shown that when the organization and employees values are in sync and when there is trust, employees view other employees’ transgressions as a personal affront – an affront against themselves,” states researcher and University of Miami law professor Michele DeStefano. This ingrains ethical behavior into everyday actions. Good ethics are also good for business as values-based companies are more successful. In sum, creating an ethical culture is part and parcel of meeting the needs of employees–especially Millennial employees– while also benefitting the company as a whole.

Compliance Training

As a vehicle to affect employee behavior and attitudes, online compliance training can be a valuable tool to help build a better workplace and organizational culture. In order to achieve this, however, compliance training must be effective.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be applied to instructional design. EverFi Instructional Writer Jayinee Basu highlights five areas where instructional design must meet the needs of learners: functionality, reliability, usability, proficiency, and creativity. Further, online training must be engaging. “Engagement is necessary for online learning that goes beyond the computer screen. Engaged learners are attentive, curious, interested, optimistic, and passionate while learning, indicating a high level of motivation for internalizing the material,” continues Basu in her post “Engaging the Millennial Learner.” Effectiveness also depends on the context of training. In the case of ethics, EverFi Lead Instructional Writer Carmen Poole states that “[v]aluable conduct training begins and ends with a willing learner and training that is guided by their needs.”

In building a better ethics and compliance program, companies should focus on the needs of their employees in developing an ethical culture and ethics training. Considering that Millennials are the largest segment of the US workforce and have shown a desire for ethical workplaces, now is the time to roll out ethics training with effective, engaging courses.

LawRoom (powered by EverFi) delivers online training to help your business meet compliance requirements both dynamically and scalably. In addition to our award-winning online courses, LawRoom delivers a robust, cloud-based learning management system to help you easily deploy and track our growing library of ethics, anti-harassment, data security and employee conduct courses.

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Douglas Kelly
Douglas Kelly is EverFi's lead legal editor. He writes on corporate compliance and culture, analyzing new case law, legislation and regulations affecting US companies. Before joining EverFi, he litigated federal and state employment cases and wrote about legal trends. He earned his JD from Berkeley Law and BBA from Emory University.

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