3 Ways an Ethical Workplace Creates Happier Employees


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Focusing more on making your workplace ethical is a great way to improve staff morale, increasing retention while making your company more appealing to recruits.

Article 3 Minutes
Ethical Workplace Creates Happier Employees

Happier employees are better for your business. This is something that has been proven time and time again, from studies showing that happy staff are 20% more productive to others showing that increased satisfaction can increase sales by 37%. It’s no surprise that many of the world’s top firms have placed a major emphasis on keeping their workers cheerful.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Some businesses have such an issue with this that making their employees happier might require major changes in how the organization is run. However, in many cases it is much simpler than this. In fact, one thing most companies can do to improve employee happiness is to make their business more ethical.

Making sure your company is contributing to making the world a better place - while ensuring your employees are aware of this - can be a great way to significantly improve staff happiness. Here’s why this is such an effective method for increasing morale.

1. Leading by example is a clear motivator

One problem many businesses have when it comes to staff happiness is that their organization’s leaders were selected purely based on their ability to perform in their roles. This is an important factor, and you certainly want to promote your skilled staff. However, when it comes to morale, there are more important things to consider.

A recent study has found that workers are both happier and more productive when they can see their leaders have strong morals and a clear vision. Having someone with good moral character at the top of a firm makes people feel more secure and satisfied with their job. It sets a good example for everyone, and shows that the company cares about more than the bottom line.

“People respond to leaders who care not just about themselves but wider society, who have strong morals and ethics, who behave with purpose.” - Professor Catherine Bailey, University of Sussex.


If you make sure ethical behavior is ingrained into your management staff, you can improve happiness significantly.

2. Being proud of your company makes you happier

This might seem like a simple observation. Clearly, if you think your company is great - and is doing the right thing - you are going to be happier working for it. However, you might not realize the extent to which this is a factor in determining staff happiness. It might even be the biggest factor.

Research from Robert Half found that pride in one’s organization is the strongest driver of happiness among employees in the US and Canada. In fact, workers who felt proud of the company they worked for were around three times more likely to be happy than those who lacked this emotion.

There are a range of different reasons to be proud of your company, of course. However, ethical behavior is a clear motivator, especially among the next generation of employees who will be your top talent in the years to come.

3. Generation Z is increasingly concerned about ethics

Being successful in business means looking to the future, and one clear thing you need to bear in mind is the motivations of the generation that will be the top talent of tomorrow. Generation Z will soon hit the workforce in a big way, and research shows they are more concerned with ethics than the people who came before them.

This can be clearly seen when it comes to their purchasing power. More than half (54%) of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 have either bought a product from a brand - or stopped using one - because of its ethics. Similarly, 63% have said they would be more likely to buy from a company if it supported a cause that they find important.

Motivating this upcoming generation of talent therefore requires companies to pay even closer attention to ethics than they have done before now. Failure to do so could mean that you end up with a workforce that is unhappy, unmotivated and unwilling to give 100% for a company they morally disagree with.

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