Talking to Your Employees About Ethics & the Standards of Conduct

Supervisor as Leader

Your job changes when you become a supervisor. You become someone that your employees look to for guidance, direction and support: a role model for integrity and demonstrating public service corporate values. As a supervisor, you also have responsibilities for human resources as outlined in the HR Accountability Framework, the Standards of Conduct, and the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA).

Consider this:

  • Employees observe their supervisor’s behaviours and will tend to adopt the tone and culture modeled by their supervisor
  • Supervisors who talk about respectful workplaces and ethical behaviour but fail to practice it send a conflicting message
  • A supervisor who fails to mention the importance of ethics and respectful workplace at work may send a message that they don't matter
  • Research shows that employee dissatisfaction and turnover are often related to poor relationships with direct supervisors

Workplace behaviour and ethical issues are often some of the most complex and interesting pieces in our work. If you show an interest in these issues, so will others. Examine and reflect on your actions. Are they reflecting the highest standards? How might you improve?

Starting an Ongoing Conversation

Set aside time to talk about public service values, the Standards of Conduct and respectful workplaces. Add them as conversation topics as part of your leadership practice.

  • Review and talk about workplace policies and guidelines (e.g. oath of employment, standards of conduct, social media guidelines etc.) as a team on a regular basis
  • Ask employees to be familiar with the respectful workplace resources and ethics-related resources on MyHR such as the Ethics & Standards of Conduct hub, the information about reporting wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, and Working With Others
  • Talk about conduct openly and often. Make it a standing topic at team meetings with a “How would you handle this situation?” discussion
  • Invite and welcome questions and concerns from employees
  • Use questions from employees as opportunities to learn
  • Seek out examples of ethics in the news. Many news stories show how others have faced and resolved ethical issues
  • When you find relevant stories, use them in discussions with your employees
  • Talk about your role as a supervisor in creating a safe space for employees to report wrongdoing