Think about your employees. You would trust most of them to make good decisions for your company, right? And they probably would—unless they were being negatively influenced in some way. Unchallenged or dissatisfied employees are more likely to contribute to a compliance breach, which could cost your company everything.
If you read the news regularly, you have probably seen headlines reporting a compliance or data breach. It seems like another company’s information is being compromised every other week. On the surface, you may believe that this is a direct result of our increased access to and dependence, on technology. However, there is a bigger story to be told. Ethical breaches have been happening since the beginning of time—the difference today is that reporting is more widespread and the stakes are higher.
An ethical breach can be extremely costly for businesses—both in terms of talent and revenue. Not only are companies hit with large fines, but they must also deal with a blow to their reputation, which can have devastating effects on their bottom line. Take, for instance, the recent Wells Fargo breach. It is estimated that the one million fraudulent accounts that were opened cost the bank $185 million.
However, the fallout that Wells Fargo experienced actually cost the bank far more than that. The loss of trust and integrity with the public could take years for the company to fully bounce back from. But it is the actual and potential loss of top talent—including both current and future employees—that many organizations are unable to recover from.
So, how can you prevent ethical breaches? Generally, this type of situation is a result of deep, systemic issues within the company. If an employee feels as though they are being held to impossible standards and cannot meet their goals, they are at risk of becoming sloppy with their work or just giving up altogether.
Issues are also more likely to arise when employees do not feel supported by their managers, or if they perceive there to be favoritism taking place within the team. When individuals feel a sense of unfairness, they will quickly shed any loyalty that they have to the company—which could include sabotage.
It is important to keep in mind that we tend to be products of our environment. This means that you need to prioritize a business culture of positive decision making. Often, it is just a single employee—one bad apple—that can negatively influence the entire team or company. Make sure that you keep an eye out for anyone contributing to a negative workplace environment, and take the appropriate steps to address this issue quickly and wholly.
To do this, keep an open line of communication with employees and encourage them to speak up with any issues or concerns. Remember that, when you model positive choices and encourage your leadership to do the same, you will promote good behavior throughout the company and help minimize risk of any nefarious activities.