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Business ethics makes you happy!

In this blog article, Dr. Bettina Palazzo explains why compliance officers influence the company’s mood and how they can make employees happy with the help of the right corporate ethics.

by Dr. Bettina Palazzo 3 min

    This bold claim is my personal credo. Yes, it sounds corny, but I am deeply convinced of it. That’s why I wrote the sentence on the first page of my company website.

    Lately, several people asked me why I thought so.

    Great question! Let me explain myself better.

    Removing the ethical gray veil

    In my many years of experience as a business ethics consultant, I have seen time and again how much people suffer when there are ethical conflicts and problems in their organizations, and these are not addressed courageously, transparently and competently.

    From unfair and aggressive bosses, to cheating on expense accounts or tenders, to sexual harassment, to only getting an order in exchange for a fat “commission” to the business partner – ethical challenges are always and everywhere. What matters is how a company deals with them!

    In my workshops, I experience again and again how relieved the participants are when they are finally allowed to talk about such dilemma situations in their everyday work, when they see that others are also struggling with them and that it is much easier to find good solutions together. Often, they do not want to stop discussing it. And it usually becomes clear very quickly that many of these complex issues cannot be solved by the single employee.

    If a company leaves its employees alone with these ethical challenges, they are swept under the carpet of organizational silence. Of course, this does not make the problems go away! At best, they weigh people down like an invisible gray veil that kills motivation and inspiration; at worst, they are the breeding ground for the next corporate scandal.

    In a company without this ethical gray veil, people’s suffering at work decreases and work happiness increases.

    Creating the right environment

    Most people want to come to work with a good conscience, they want to contribute to something they can be proud of. They have no desire to waste their energy covering up mistakes or engaging in power struggles and micropolitics. They want an environment where they feel they are treated with fairness, respect, and appreciation. And they want a corporate culture where ethical misconduct is not tolerated, and constructive criticism is valued.

    Is it easy to build and maintain such a culture of integrity? Not at all. Is it worth it? Most definitely, because happy employees are more productive, more cooperative, more innovative, and less likely to get sick.

    What role can compliance play here?

    It should consciously and unflinchingly distance itself from its image as a buzzkill and repeatedly demonstrate how it frees people in the company from the burden of the ethical gray veil and protects the company from harm.

    Just start with yourself by reinterpreting your role as a compliance officer, not as that of the corporate watchdog, but as a kind of unrecognized “Chief Happiness Officer.”

    Have fun with it!

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    Dr Bettina Palazzo
    Dr Bettina Palazzo

    Dr Bettina Palazzo is convinced that unethical companies make people unhappy. That’s why she has spent 25 years working tirelessly to make business ethics a topic that is attractive to everyone. She helps companies and non-profit organisations advance the ethical skills of their managers.