Deloitte's 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey

It appears that employers may not be fully aware of the impact their decisions have on their employees. In order to build a transparent, trusting workplace, business decisions need to remain consistent with the organization’s culture and policies.

Posted by Joe Gerard in Ethics, Ethics & Compliance on August 3rd, 2010

As with any human relationship, once the trust is gone, the relationship usually goes with it. Last week, Deloitte released the findings of their annual Ethics & Workplace Survey. The focus of the survey this year was on trust in the workplace. Deloitte began publishing their annual Ethics & Workplace Survey back in 2007.  The points of concern identified in the survey provide business leaders with insight into growing issues that must be addressed in order to retain valuable employees. The ethics and trust gaps identified in the survey bring to light the different views employees and employers have in regards to these two areas. After reviewing the results and methodology of the 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey, I have put together some advice for rebuilding ethics and trust within the workplace.

Survey Results

Based on the results of the Deloitte survey, it appears that employers may not be fully aware of the impact their decisions have on their employees. In order to build a transparent, trusting workplace, business decisions need to remain consistent with the organization’s culture and policies. Here are some of the results  from the 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey as presented in the press release for the survey on the Deloitte website:

“According to Deloitte’s fourth annual Ethics & Workplace Survey,

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  • One-third (34%) of employed Americans plan to look for a new job when the economy gets better.
  • Within this group of respondents, 48% cite loss of trust in their employer.
  • 46% say that the lack of transparent communication from their company’s leadership is the primary reason for pursuing new employment at the end of the recession.
  • Additionally, a large majority (65%) of Fortune 1000 executives who are concerned employees will be job hunting in the coming months, believe trust will be a factor in a potential increase in voluntary turnover. “

On a positive note, a large number of the employees surveyed feel that their employers are responsive to their work/life balance needs. Majority of the employees surveyed felt that technology made it possible for employers to develop flexible arrangements that allow employees to balance work and personal commitments. The results from the work/life balance questions demonstrate that employers are aware of the varying needs amongst their employees. This also shows that employers are willing to make accommodations to retain valuable employees.

The 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey can be downloaded for free from Deloitte. The methodology used for conducting the survey is outlined at the end of the document.

Message for Business Leaders

When companies, such as Deloitte, publish reports related to ethics and compliance, business leaders must pay attention to the findings. The results of the survey signal the need for business leaders to emphasize ethics in order to regain the trust of their employees. The press release for the survey from Deloitte states:

“Frequently, executives are forced to make decisions that broadly affect their workforces and alter what matters in the workplace. Today’s business environment is no exception; it appears that the recession has diminished two important forms of business currency: trust and ethics.”

When decisions are made that are not necessarily inline with a company’s culture, employee trust is sacrificed, as they no longer know what- or who, to believe. This could lead employees to feel that there has been a change in corporate culture, pushing them to pursue alternative employment with a company that has a culture similar to the employee’s personal attitude. In a previous post, Improving Workplace Communication, we mentioned that many top level executives only increase communication and transparency when a company is undergoing significant changes.

During tough times, such as the recession, many companies resort to cutting budgets and eliminating employees from their organizations to save money. When communication lines are broken, employees may feel they are next to be eliminated. Employees may also be concerned in regards to the future implications of these events on the company. Regular communication from all levels of an organization- regardless of economic climate, is necessary to strengthen corporate culture and ensure all employees are aware of what is expected of them throughout the times of change. Managers and executives must communicate to employees the reasoning behind their decisions and inform them of how it fits into the future plans for the organization.

The survey results reiterate the need for executives to set the tone at the top. Leaders must focus on improving workplace communication, transparency within the company and with the public and developing an ethical culture. Adopting these practices provides businesses with an advantage when it comes to attracting skilled employees. Ethical cultures that are enforced and practiced by top level management help reduce corporate risk, as employees are able to see for themselves the efforts and importance placed on ethics and compliance within the workplace. Fostering a communicative environment reduces many corporate risks, as employees can ask questions, receive answers and will most likely feel safer bringing information forward when it comes to workplace misconduct or policy violations. Employers and executives can learn a lot and benefit from communication.


Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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