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Flexibility at Work = Ethical Employees

How can employers ward off unethical behavior among employees? They should make sure managers practice the ethics they preach, provide flexible working conditions so employees can achieve a work-life balance, and acknowledge ethical behavior, says a recent Deloitte & Touche survey.

Sharon L. Allen, chairman of the board at Deloitte & Touche USA, highlighted the importance of flexibility: “In the competitive environment to attract and retain talent, it is imperative that employers provide employees with the means to attain a healthy work-life balance. This is not only key to job satisfaction and retaining your most valued employees, but it is also critical in fostering an ethical workplace culture.” (See Deloitte & Touche news release here, and the survey results here.)

Flexibility's All the Rage

The tone of a working environment is always set by management. It's a human tendency to take a cue from the top as to what's OK--whether at work, at home or wherever.

Flexibility, meanwhile, is a stone gathering a lot of moss these days (see my recent post on flexibility). By offering employees more flexible set-ups, like working from home two days a week, employers are showing they trust employees. It's the committed, productive employees who'll take the trust and flourish, and the slackers who'll abuse the trust and falter.

Survey Says? Flexibility Counts

The Deloitte & Touche survey says 91 percent of all employed adults agreed workers are more likely to act ethically at work if they have a good work-life balance. Sixty percent of employed adults said job dissatisfaction is a leading cause of people acting unethically at work, and 55 percent of workers placed a flexible work schedule among the top three factors leading to job satisfaction, second to compensation (63 percent).

Workers also voiced support for flexibility in PayScale.com's spring 2007 survey on flextime: 65 percent of respondents said flextime was the most important workplace benefit; 22 percent indicated telecommuting was most important. A large majority of respondents--97 percent--said they believe American employers should offer more flexible work options.

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