During tough times ethical programs matter the most to organizations and employees. A strong grounding in ethical values help provide consistency to continue meeting organizational goals. Despite the obvious fact that implementation of ethical practices maintains a positive image on a company, employees have been seen to become highly unethical during an economic crisis. Organizations have observed and concluded that an increase in unethical employee behavior during economic downturn seems inevitable.
A turbulent economy forces employers to trim budgets with staff and maximize output with minimum resources. Employees experience stress during an economic downturn. This stress is due to reduced disposable income, fear of losing jobs, falling assets prices and hysteresis. This form of economy generated stress can lead to an increase in counterproductive behavior at work. As financial pressure increases due to unemployment so does the risk of unethical behavior in employees who might otherwise had never considered in engaging in illicit act of work. As unemployment rises and job losses continue, some employees end up fearing for their jobs and have greater psychological need for financial security. In some circumstances employers are forced to freeze salaries and reduce benefits. Given the above circumstances it is reasonable to conclude that on average the need for employees to engage in workplace deviance increase dramatically.
Most companies are forced to cut down on staff when times are hard, and that can include loss control and security officers. The loss of these prevention officers make it conducive for employees to engage in economic crimes such as corruption, bribery or even stealing. It is very unfortunate that as companies make a decision on cutting on ethical programs, they make it very susceptible to unethical practices. In times of crisis, success and survival is driven by a firms ability to use its assets in new and inventive ways. Ethics is about goodwill and reputation of both individual and institutions. Importance of such intangible assets should be emphasized to keep the business flourishing when everything else is down.
Ethical behavior does bring significant benefits to a business such as attraction of customers, skilled employees and investors. Thus it becomes very crucial that during an economic downturn, management should show that they value ethics as much as the bottom line. Frequency reference to code of conduct should be emphasized and compliance programs should be implemented. All employees should embrace corporate ethics and integrity. The implementation of ethics in a turbulent environment is a daunting task but neglecting ethical practices during tough times is business suicide.