Ethical workplace, NZ: a work in progress

Ethical workplace, NZ: a work in progress

New research shows most Kiwi workers are confident in the honesty of their workplace but more formal avenues for those seeking ethical advice are needed.

IBE’s 2021 Ethics at Work international report surveyed employees from around the world to gauge attitudes and perceptions around ethics and the workplace. 10,000 employees across 13 countries, including New Zealand were asked about their experience of ethical workplace dilemmas. 

Among the findings, employees in New Zealand were less likely to say that they have been aware of misconduct at work, compared to 2018 (16% vs 26%). The global average in 2021 is 18%. 

Similarly, 88% of New Zealand employees said that honesty is practised always or frequently in their organisation, up slightly on 2018’s 86%. That’s high by international standards, but behind Switzerland (91%), France (89%) and Germany (89%).

Respondents in New Zealand were less likely than average to say that their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do.

“A greater focus on providing formal ways in which employees can obtain advice or information about behaving ethically at work, which currently is the least common of the four building blocks of an ethics programme considered, could be one way of addressing these issues,” says IBE. 

More troublingly, some 41% of employees in New Zealand who had raised their concerns about misconduct they had been aware of, reported experiencing retaliation as a result.

58% of employees in New Zealand who had spoken up about the misconduct they had been aware of were satisfied with the outcome, which is higher than in 2018 (55%). The global average in 2021 is 62%.

Other key stats for New Zealand include: 

  • The percentage of employees who have felt pressured to compromise their organisation’s standards of behaviour hasn’t changed compared to 2018 (10%). The main source of pressure for Kiwi employees? Time pressures/unrealistic deadlines (45%), followed by a lack of resources (32%).
  • In New Zealand, 61% of employees said that they had been aware of misconduct at work and had spoken up about it, compared to the US (76%), South Africa (67%) and Australia (63%). 
  • The main reason why employees didn’t raise their ethical concerns? The feeling that doing so might jeopardise their employment along with the belief that no corrective action would be taken (both at 31%). 
  • 71% of employees in New Zealand said they were aware of written standards of ethical business conduct in their organisation, compared to a global average of 67%. 
  • 72% of Kiwi employees said that their line manager set a good example of ethical business behaviour (71% global average). 
  • 61% said that their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do (65% global average).
  • 71% said that their line manager supports them in following their organisation’s standards of ethical behaviour (68% global average), and 73% said that senior management takes ethics seriously in their organisation (70% global average). 
  • 29% of them also said that their line manager rewards employees who get good results, even if they use practices that are ethically questionable (32% global average).
  • 37% of employees in New Zealand said that, considering their organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their opinion on how ethically their organisation behaves had improved. Only 6% say that it has worsened, while 54% said that it has stayed the same.

Read the full report here

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