Employees More Ethical on the Homefront

Telecommuters are more ethical than those toiling in the office every day — or maybe being at home or another remote location simply offers fewer opportunities to get oneself into trouble.

Those are the less than clear conclusions from a recent study.

In a survey of 200 firms by the Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle, only 11 percent said work-from-home employees had committed ethics violations in the past two years.

But 36 percent reported "visible ethics violations" by employees who don’t work from home regularly, and 43 percent reported non-visible violations for this group, such as expense account fraud or bribery, MarketWatch reports.

Those of us who usually work from home would like to think this is because of our high ethical standards.

But it turns out we are nothing special. We’re just isolated.

"You can see why someone working from home wouldn’t get embroiled in some of the things that lead to trouble," Mark Ohringer, executive vice president and global general counsel for Jones Lang LaSalle, was quoted as saying.

When a worker isn’t in the office, the opportunity to tell inappropriate jokes or harass people diminishes (much to our annoyance).

Other misconduct includes theft, expense-report abuse and misusing social media, other experts say. In fact, the employee’s eagerness to maintain his or her work-from-home privilege may make that person extra careful to comply with a company’s ethics policy, MarketWatch says.

Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular, and some employees may also behave well because they’re afraid of losing their work-from-home privileges, MarketWatch states.

John Dean and Ethics: An Interesting Combination

John Dean is going to teach an ethics course.

Now, if you’re less than 40 years old and/or not particularly a student of government history, that might not mean much to you. If you paid attention to Watergate, either during the actual downfall of President Nixon and so many others or studied it after the fact, you’ll understand.

A fascinating New York Times story last weekend (repeated on a number of legal web sites) revealed the very few choices the White House counsel at the time had when he learned of the scandal. The political scandal led to a wide array of ethics reforms.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Learning ethics by studying Watergate might sound like learning about fiduciary duties by studying Bernard L. Madoff . That, Mr. Dean, 72, said in an interview, is the point. “I helped write the book of what not to do, so I’m hopeful that people can learn from that — and not make the mistakes I did.”

The half-day program focuses on the events of the week after the arrests of the burglars, when G. Gordon Liddy explained the extent of the White House “plumbers” operation to Mr. Dean, the White House counsel, and Mr. Dean’s involvement in obstruction of justice began. “That first week foreshadows everything, raises everything a lawyer can be confronted with, and it’s where the problems started,” Mr. Dean said.

The issues are complex, but come down to this: What are a lawyer’s obligations when his bosses are engaged in criminal acts? 

Billy Joel was Right; It’s a Matter of Trust

When the economy improves, do you expect your staffers to stay put? According to a new survey from Deloitte, many American employees may be searching for greener pastures. The reason? Lack of trust in leadership. You’d be wise to make sure that’s not the case at your company. The New York Post writes:

Just wait until the recession is over.

One-third of American workers claim they will look for a new job once the economy gets better, according to a survey released today.

A whopping 48 percent of those who want to change jobs are mainly motivated by a loss of trust in their employers, according to Deloitte’s fourth annual "Ethics & Workplace Survey."

“With lack of trust and transparency factoring into the employment decision of roughly half of the respondents who plan to job hunt in the coming months, business leaders must be mindful of the importance of both on talent management and retention strategies, as well as the bottom line impact,” said Sharon Allen, chairman of the board at Deloitte.

Forty-six percent also said a lack of transparent communication from their organization’s leadership was the reason why they were not happy at work.

“The survey shows that trust and flexibility are critical in today’s workplace," said Allen.

After all, you can’t go the distance, with too much resistance … and so forth.


Group Should be Red-Faced Over Green Effort

I have the opportunity to work with lobbyists at the Indiana Chamber who strive to produce the best possible business climate for Indiana companies and their employees. While those individuals have the goal of winning on the issues they pursue, success does not come at the expense of ethics. In other words, winning at all costs doesn’t apply; honesty and integrity remain at the top of the priority list.

That brings us to a group (not sure who it is and wouldn’t want to give them exposure by naming them if I did) that wants Congress to pass a clean energy climate plan. The group is airing a television commercial among other outreaches. Free speech is good; what they are saying is bad.

As bombs go off in the background and there are images of wounded and fallen soldiers, the message is that for every $1 increase in oil prices, terrorists receive $1.5 billion to buy weapons to kill our service men and women. No argument here that less dependence on foreign oil is a good thing. But to directly contend that wind turbines and solar panels (images of both are shown in the ad as alternatives to oil) would change the world as we know it is ridiculous. Oil contributes less than one percent of all of our country’s electricity.

The brave and heroic efforts of our country’s soldiers should not be used in this manner. No matter one’s opinion on U.S. military operations around the world, trying to say that more wind and solar power will replace oil — and save lives — is disingenuous, unethical and a few other words we won’t repeat here.

House to (Finally) Debate Township Reform

Missing from the 2009 discussion of local government reform was a true debate in the House of Representatives. That may be remedied this morning.

A year ago, the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee conducted one abbreviated, orchestrated meeting that was intended to — and successfully — shut down the reform debate for that session. This time around, HB 1181 (passed out of committee 11-0 on Monday and featuring a proposed township-by-township referendum) will be on second reading.

Among the proposed amendments:

  • No taxing authority for townships that have excess revenues that exceed 50% of their annual budget
  • Strong anti-nepotism language
  • An ethics provision preventing elected officials from serving on the legislative body of the entity they work for
  • Several amendments from ranking minority committee member Phil Hinkle (R-Indianapolis), including eliminating township advisory boards and giving county councils budget authority. This would make the township referendum, if it goes forward, a vote on the trustee role only

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Later today, the Senate Local Government Committee tackles its own legislation in this area.