How Ethical Communication Training Can Help Your Company (Ethical Communication Series Part 3 of 3)
In this blog series, we’ve gone through the importance of communication ethics as well as the consequences of ethical communication gone wrong. Now, for the final part of our series, we’re highlighting a key feature of successful, compliant businesses everywhere—ethical communication training.
Do I Need Ethical Communication Training?
Ethics can be a nebulous subject. While an individual employee might have one definition of ethical behavior, your business might have another. It’s best to show employees how you expect them to communicate in the workplace, rather than assume and leave it up to chance. Your company will benefit from the increased protection against compliance risks, both financially and reputationally.
From an employee standpoint, ethical companies are some of the best places to work. In a recent ethics survey, 94% of respondents said it was “critical” or “important” for them to work for an ethical company. In addition, more than one-third of respondents report leaving a company that did not meet their ethical standards. These results indicate that in addition to being the right thing to do, strong ethics can attract prospective workers and decrease turnover rates.
Types of Ethical Communication Trainings
Ethical communication is a broad and multi-faceted topic. Therefore, there are several different ways to approach ethical communication training, given your company’s specific needs. Below are five different types of training where ethical communication plays an essential role.
1. Code of Conduct Training
A code of conduct course is a typical part of employee onboarding training. New hire and annual code of conduct training allows employees to grow familiar with the company’s values and practices. Code of conduct training sets clear expectations for employees, so they know what ethical standards they are responsible for meeting. Additionally, strong code of conduct training allows employees to learn about and practice ethical communication in a safe, risk-free setting. Code of conduct training may include guidance on company values, diversity and inclusion, safety, data and privacy protection, conflicts of interest, fair competition, compliant business practices, social media guidelines, accounting practices, asking questions, and reporting concerns. Ultimately, all employee decisions and communications should circle back to the guidelines set by the company’s code of ethics.
2. Business Writing Training
It only takes one poorly worded document to land a business in hot water. In a world where 300 million emails and 6 million text messages are sent every day, there are literally millions of opportunities for business writing to go wrong. Business writing training can teach your employees how to write documents that are ethical, clear, and factual as well as shut down communications that are moving into dubious territory. Workers can practice identifying examples of good and bad communication and giving appropriate responses to colleagues, clients, and partners. In short, knowing how to “write it right” is an essential skill to help boost the company’s overall communication ethics.
3. Anti-Harassment Training
Knowing how to ethically communicate verbally, digitally, and even physically via body language is essential for preventing harassment in the workplace. Harassment can occur in many forms, both overt and subtle. Strong anti-harassment training teaches employees to carefully consider their words before expressing them and clearly spells out acceptable versus unacceptable communications. Training also demonstrates proper reporting procedures so in case harassment does occur, it is identified and quickly shut down. Not only is anti-harassment training critical for every business, it’s also mandatory in several states.
4. Diversity Training
Think of diversity training as the precursor to anti-harassment training. Both work to prevent discrimination and harassment, but diversity training starts at square one by helping your company foster a culture of acceptance. As business cultures are growing increasingly diverse, training can be an especially useful tool for companies who need help unifying their team. Some employees may be completely unfamiliar with working in diverse spaces. Others may say something with good intentions, but accidentally offend or commit a microaggression against a coworker. Ultimately, even the most ethically savvy individuals can benefit from a training refresher. In diversity training, employees can tackle unconscious bias and gain a deeper understanding of their coworkers and their own identities.
5. Privacy and Data Protection Training
Sometimes, ethical communication comes down to knowing when to say or do nothing. Protecting your customers’ private information is critical for building trust in your organization. Not to mention, there are several U.S. privacy laws in place governing how companies collect and protect consumer data. With that in mind, training employees on their state-specific or global privacy requirements will help keep sensitive data under lock and key. Privacy and data protection training will also help to safeguard your business from cyberattacks and other breaches of company security.
Get Started With Your Ethics Training Program
Ethical communication training is critical for operating your business in a compliant way. With comprehensive training, employees at every level will be more prepared to conduct business in an ethical fashion, making for a healthier, happier work environment. Before getting started, ask yourself if there are gaps in your company’s current ethics program and where there might be room for improvement. A company that routinely handles sensitive data may benefit most from privacy and data protection training, whereas a company undergoing new acquisitions may benefit from a diversity training refresher. Ultimately, you can shape your training program to fit your company’s specific ethical communication needs.