Work-life balance nurtures ethical behavior in workplace

Does a positive work-life balance nurture positive ethical behaviors at work? A 2007 Deloitte & Touche USA LLP Ethics & Workplace survey reports a strong relationship between the two factors.

According to the survey, 91 percent of all employed adults agreed that workers are more likely to behave ethically at work when they have a good work-life balance. A combined 44 percent of workers cite high levels of stress (28 percent), long hours (25 percent) and inflexible schedule (13 percent) as the causes of conflict between their work responsibilities and personal priorities, hence contributors to work-life imbalance.

Conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Deloitte & Touche USA, the survey also showed that the behaviors of management and direct supervisors, coupled with positive reinforcement for ethical behavior, are the top factors for promoting ethical behavior in the workforce.

Sixty percent of employed adults surveyed think that job dissatisfaction is a leading reason why people make unethical decisions at work, and more than half of workers (55 percent) ranked a flexible work schedule among the top three factors leading to job satisfaction, second only to compensation (63 percent).

The survey also reveals the important impact management and supervisors have in promoting ethical workplace behaviors. Employed adults ranked the behavior of management (42 percent) and direct supervisors (36 percent) as the top two factors contributing to the promotion of an ethical workplace.

Interestingly, the survey showed that reinforcement of criminal penalties and ethics training may do little to deter unethical behavior at work. An underwhelming 10 percent of employed adults ranked criminal penalties for violation of Code of Conduct among the top three factors that help foster an ethical workplace environment, while only 16 percent ranked ethics training as a factor that has a positive influence on promoting ethical behavior.

"Corporate leaders have a duty to build and foster a values-based culture that thrives on high ethical standards and makes corporate and social responsibility a top priority," commented Sharon L. Allen, chairman of the board at Deloitte & Touche USA. "Only by instilling these values in our respective organizations will we be able to bestow a promising future to the next generation."

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