What is work ethics/Top examples/Why Cultivate/How to strengthen

Have you noticed how the conduct of employees and employers impacts working relationships? And have you noticed how this can affect the company’s results? By approaching and strengthening ethics, HR helps everyone assume positive positions for the organization. work ethics

An employment relationship is a two-way street. It is guided, among other factors, by work ethics so that it is successful and positive for both employers and workers.

While there is nothing more natural than expecting people to act ethically, the issue needs to be raised.

There are alignments that can be made between the parties, and HR has an important role in making this happen.

Continue reading the post to understand the importance of ethics in the work environment and learn how this concept can be applied, no longer an idea but part of the company’s reality!

What is work ethics

Ethics can be understood as the set of values ​​or principles that guide human beings in their ways of behaving and behaving. 

Values ​​that can be adopted by an individual, a group or a society.

Still, if we consider the etymology of the word, ethics comes from êthos , which means habits and customs, and comes from ethos , which means shelter or abode. 

With that, we are facing the foundations that keep a house standing, and this house can be society in general or relationships in the work environment .

Putting all these ideas together, we arrive at a concept of work ethics as the set of principles and values ​​that guide the conduct of workers and employers and that sustain the good relationship between all.

Therefore, we talk about something that is important for impacting the construction of professional relationships. 

They, in turn, will impact motivation, productivity, teamwork, the employer brand , organizational culture and the climate in the work environment.

In addition to technical standards, we talk about principles and values ​​linked to human behavior. 

With HR as the main agent responsible for managing people, it is at this point that the understanding of the role that the sector plays when it comes to professional ethics begins.

Difference between ethics and morals at work

Ethics and morals are words that usually go hand in hand. So commonly presented together that their concepts get mixed up and we end up getting confused.

Morality is governed by laws, norms and rules. In turn, ethics is something that comes from within, from each person . 

Thus, an employee who acts unethically may end up disrespecting the moral conduct expected by the company, that is, violating the organization’s internal policy and standards.

Top examples of work ethics

Examples are great so you can more clearly understand what work ethic is. 

Therefore, we are going to present the main principles that guide the conduct and relationships between the agents that participate in the universe of an organization.


“Oh, but so-and-so couldn’t have acted like that because it’s unethical!” . In some context, it is very likely that you have already heard, spoken or thought of this phrase.

Integrity is precisely the quality of someone who has ethics or who acts according to this precept. 

Thus, having integrity is having the ability to act ethically at work , because it is like having an internal engine that drives us to observe principles, respect rules and maintain proper conduct.

The absence of integrity basically prevents a person from having an ethical stance in any sphere, so this is a quality that should be valued.

It is also worth mentioning that a person of integrity is less likely to make or spread gossip, speak ill of co-workers and have any other conduct that harms relationships and the organizational climate .


Something employers are looking for and, in fact, we all hope for is people who are capable of honoring the commitments they make. 

No company wants to be left in the lurch, no team wants to go through this, just like no colleague.

Thus, another example of work ethics is responsibility, a characteristic that leads professionals to:

  • fulfill the tasks assigned to them;
  • respect deadlines;
  • communicate unforeseen events;
  • take care of the company’s assets;
  • assume failures and their consequences;
  • respect the organization’s acronyms and more.


Since we talk about admitting failures, having a work ethic means knowing how to recognize mistakes and face them head on . Something intrinsically linked to responsibility.

In this regard, we have already taken the opportunity to point out that it is easier for an employee to assume that he has made a mistake when the company’s environment is not threatening.

You may already be aware of guidelines on how negative feedback should not be given in public by name. 

In other words, if a professional made a mistake, the manager can point out the problem to the team without naming names or talking to the person responsible for the particular situation.

This is because, no matter how humble a person is, they can feel extremely embarrassed to report a failure if they fear that, as a consequence, they will experience some humiliation.

Thus, the company has a role in creating the right climate for mistakes to be seen as an opportunity for growth and this is something that, in addition to other agents, involves HR.


In job interviews, there are recruiters who ask candidates about their main strengths, in addition to asking about shortcomings. 

We remember this because we know that there are stories of professionals who said something during the interview and were not able to prove it afterwards.

Popular wisdom teaches us that talking is easy, but having coherence and acting according to the ideas and positions one defends or claims to have is not so simple.

Coherence appears, therefore, as one of the examples we have about work ethics, because professionals need to be able to align their discourse with their actions . 

It is easy to say that you have integrity, that you respect your colleagues, the company and that you are also responsible. However, it is necessary to reaffirm this professional conduct on a daily basis.


Respect is a basic principle of ethics in any sphere where the subject is raised, which includes conversations about ethics at work.

Although there is a sector formed by only one employee, this professional is still linked to the entire ecosystem of the organization. 

Therefore, respect must permeate the actions of each and every individual who is linked to the company.

To have respect is to abandon an individualistic posture and recognize yourself as part of the whole .

The individual needs to have the responsibility to take care of his own tasks, but without forgetting that he is part of a team, of a community in the organization.

A professional needs to respect the work of the other, even though he believes that, if he had the opportunity, he would do it differently and better.

Not to mention issues that are even more basic that make up the notion of civility and that include not mistreating people, not humiliating, not discriminating and so on.


We imagine you’ve heard a lot about empathy in the last few years, right? 

Although it has become a “fashion”, empathy really has a very important meaning for human relationships and fits among the principles of work ethics.

An empathetic person is the one who has the ability to put himself in the other’s shoes, something that depends on understanding the emotions, postures and visions of the other, in addition to understanding the other’s reality.

Empathy at work goes hand in hand with respect, because it allows a professional to understand the way others have to conduct their tasks and face a situation.

What’s more, empathy allows employers to consider the reality, expectations and demands of their employees to make more strategic decisions. 

This is something that favors talent attraction and retention , productivity and more.


Last but not least, we need to talk about equity to complement the main examples of work ethics.

Ethics only exists with equality , and that’s what leads us to talk about equity, a concept that you may already know, but don’t understand clearly yet.

Shedding light on the concept , equity “understands how fair it is to provide equal results for different people by treating different people differently”.

In other words, equity recognizes that different people may need different conditions for equality to be a reality. 

Something that can also be understood as giving unequal treatment to unequal in search of equality.

Thus, equity is a principle that creates an egalitarian environment in which there are neither privileged nor privileged . 

A factor that should not be observed only in employees, but in management and in the organizational culture itself.

Why Cultivate Work Ethic?

Still in the introduction of this post, we point out that it is natural to expect that ethics at work will be respected. 

We live in society, we are familiar with the rules of conduct that permeate human relationships, so the idea is that it would suffice to apply them to the professional environment.

We are talking about human beings, however, and we are complex by nature. Otherwise, maybe no one would have to deal with the consequences of a lack of work ethic, don’t you think?

Ethics needs to be cultivated, because we are influenced by both what is positive and what is negative. 

And this observation applies to everyone, from the outsourced employee to the member of senior management.

When a company is created, it is guided by the definition of mission, vision and values . Values ​​are the principles, the way of acting, that is, the conduct of the organization that will lead it to fulfill its mission and achieve its objectives.

If these values ​​need to be observed even as part of the organizational strategy, so must work ethics. 

We are talking about something that needs to be cultivated so that everyone’s conduct is aligned with the company’s principles .

Without this attention, the probability that one or more employees will act in disagreement with the norms, with internal morals, increases. 

Something that can influence others and the environment, having negative impacts on a team or the organization as a whole.

In other words, cultivating ethics at work is to create more favorable conditions for people to maintain appropriate conduct as employees of the company, in their professional relationships.

The main benefits of work ethic

Knowing the benefits of professional ethics contributes to the understanding of why this issue needs to be taken into consideration and why HR, as well as top management, should seek to cultivate the aforementioned principles. 

Let’s go to the main ones:

  • promotes the improvement of relationships and interpersonal communication ;
  • favors collaboration and teamwork;
  • it increases the credibility of the professionals who make up the company’s staff and, as a consequence, of the organization as a whole;
  • contributes to a more positive organizational climate;
  • promotes employee motivation and productivity;
  • contributes to a suitable scenario for self-knowledge and professional development;
  • account in favor of emotional health and mental health at work ;
  • influences talent retention;
  • leads to improved company results.

Based on these benefits, we emphasize that work ethic may seem too abstract an idea to be addressed strategically. But it permeates professional relationships.

If it has to do with the people that make up the company, ethics has to do with each of the processes that the company carries out . That’s why the benefits of growing it are so broad.

Do you remember the meaning of êthos and ethos as the customs that build a dwelling? 

Work ethics can be understood as a structure , as one of the pillars of support so that everything the company is and everything it wants to be has adequate support.

With ethics supporting the conduct of all those who make the company exist, the benefits can be many and significant.

How to strengthen work ethic

There are some ways of promoting and strengthening ethics in the work environment that deserve to be known. 

After all, as we said, we are talking about something that we hope is natural, but which lacks reminders, incentives and even directions.

With that in mind, check out our suggestions below!

Consider that the obvious needs to be said

Professional ethics is something that workers develop based on their principles and what they learn as they gain experience.

Part of this learning comes from guidance and part comes from experiences. A company can only gain if it shares its values ​​with its employees and talks about what is expected of each of them in their conduct .

Among the principles we present are empathy, respect and equity . 

Important in any context, all these principles are fundamental for companies that want to play their part in favor of diversity and inclusion .

We’re saying this because when your company breaks through barriers, it needs to reinforce and even teach issues that seem obvious but aren’t necessarily so.

If your organization decides to hire PCDs , for example, in addition to preparing the physical space, it needs to educate all its staff and senior management to learn about the most ethical and appropriate conduct.

We take as an example a reality that does not exist in all companies, but know that reinforcing ideas about expected behaviors can be valid in any situation .

Bet on the promotion of honesty

Taking the hook, internal communication is a great ally in promoting honesty and other ethical principles. 

Positive feedback can be used to reinforce behaviors and influence employees.

We point to honesty in a special way, because it has to do with other principles that we raised earlier: responsibility and humility.

It is important to keep in mind that the idea is not to promote honesty only between teams. 

Leaders and senior management must also act ethically at work, especially considering the power of example.

Value commitment

It is truly inappropriate for managers to elect “darlings”, that is, to show a predilection for this or that employee on their team. 

This does not, however, prevent the commitment of employees from being valued.

Often, what companies want is to run away from problems and, for this reason, it can happen that the focus is completely turned to employees who are unproductive, unmotivated or even involved in more serious issues.

Although all this needs to be worked on, it is interesting that what is positive is also recognized by the company. 

The idea is not to put pressure on others or to generate unhealthy competition.

Differently from that, valuing commitment is to show that the company perceives those who have professional ethics stand out in some way, something that can inspire the reproduction of this behavior.

Bet on transparency

A company doesn’t have to be an open book. There are issues that concern only senior management and others that are specific to each sector, for example. 

Betting on transparency does not mean revealing absolutely everything, but creating an environment where there is trust .

This is because the lack of information about a situation can generate distrust. It, in turn, can open space for speculation and gossip that will affect professionals and teams.

Side conversation, when it spreads rumors, is negative and unethical. Therefore, the interesting thing is that the company promotes an environment in which there is no room for this.

Want another example of work ethics and transparency? Let’s talk point control, then.

In case you are not familiar with the subject, we have a short video explaining the types of journey control. Check out!

In the past, the lack of security in time recording systems made both employers and workers suspicious. 

The employer feared that the employee would lie on the records to try to earn overtime. The employee, in turn, was afraid that the employer would change the records to not pay them properly.

Over time, this has changed, including guidance from labor legislation. 

Choosing this type of technology shows that work ethics are practiced by the company. Therefore, it is expected that it will also be practiced by employers. 

Both parties reinforce honest conduct, and the relationship between those involved becomes much better.

As a result, transparency can exist through various actions and choices aimed at managing people , always having as a result the strengthening of ethics at work.

Develop a culture that encourages learning

The evolution of the job market is commonly cited as reasons for the company’s culture to encourage learning . 

The idea is for employees to improve and learn new skills to meet new demands with excellence.

It turns out that this culture has much more to offer employers and workers alike. 

For mistakes to be seen as an opportunity, the company needs to reinforce the idea that failures happen and that everyone can learn from them and, of course, contribute to making this happen.

It is by encouraging learning that the principle of professional ethics is strengthened, which concerns taking responsibility for mistakes and their consequences. 

Something beneficial for the company to be able to deal with failures in the best possible way, preventing them from happening again.

Encourage self-awareness and respect

As you may already know, lectures, courses and other educational resources can be used for employees to learn or update their knowledge on topics intrinsic to their work.

These resources can also be used to promote topics on mental health, emotional intelligence , inclusion, diversity, teamwork and soft skills development .

We are talking about a series of learnings that favor self-knowledge and understanding of the other. 

This helps people to be able to maintain coherence and assume an ethical stance, in addition to respecting others .

Reinforce the importance of respecting the rules

Yet, as we indicated earlier, work ethics and morals are related. With this, internal communication can be used to reinforce respect for company rules.

This means ensuring that moral obligations are respected through one’s ethical conduct. 

In other words, make sure that everyone has the guidance they need to know how they should act to respect the organization’s rules.

This can be done through the employee handbook and also through memos, reports, institutional videos and other pieces of informative material. 

It is even possible to have a code of ethics at work that includes principles and rules.

This type of content will reinforce respect for the privacy of colleagues, company secrecy and other moral issues that are anchored in ethical conduct.

Encourage reporting of unethical practices

It may be strategic for companies to have anonymous communication channels so that suggestions, criticisms and complaints are shared. This anonymity is important to avoid discomfort and intrigue.

Once a conduct that violates professional ethics is denounced and proven by the company, it can serve as an example or a basis for passing on rules and realigning expectations.

Thus, the purpose of the complaint is not to generate discomfort, it is to correct problems and encourage behavior change on the part of employees.

Check out the summary we prepared to help you implement these practices in your company!

The agents of work ethics

Throughout the text, despite the greater focus on employees, we have already mentioned employers and HR. 

These are the agents of work ethics and each one has their role to ensure that reality matches expectations on this matter. Let’s go through each of them.

The role of the employer

Professional ethics is not something that can be expected from employees without being also present in the company’s top management. 

Therefore, the role of the employer begins with the example and the definition of ethics as part of the values ​​of the organization.

Still, we have seen that cultivating and strengthening work ethics are things that depend on strategic decisions that involve planning and space for execution.

Therefore, the role of the employer also involves opening space, that is, supporting the action of leaders and HR. Let’s understand this better.

When we talk about the principles, we talk about issues such as the learning culture and equity that now serve us as good examples of what can only be put into practice with the endorsement of senior management.

Furthermore, the employer’s role is to act ethically with its employees, maintaining integrity, consistency and respecting workers’ rights.

The role of the employee

Simply and directly, the employee’s clearest role is to pay attention to the company’s culture and ethical principles developed throughout life to maintain proper conduct at work .

What develops at work tends to be collaborative in nature, a partnership. 

Thus, employees can seek to inspire colleagues by example and, cultivating team spirit, recognize and value correct attitudes that reinforce the whole issue of ethics at work.

It is possible to apply the idea that professionals act as guardians of the rules and principles sought by the organization. 

This involves observing oneself and seeking self-knowledge to maintain integrity and coherence, and observing others to learn more about respect and empathy .

If the company has a whistleblowing channel, reporting unethical conduct can also be part of the employees’ role.

The role of HR

To begin by summarizing the role of HR, we can say that the sector’s mission is to ensure that the cultivation and promotion of ethics at work take place and that this takes place in a conscious and constant way .

What HR needs to do is think about people management strategically , considering that human conduct can be guided by nature and common sense, but that it is possible to better direct individuals and teams.

It is the analytical view of HR that will indicate the best ways to cultivate professional ethics according to the profile of employees and the values ​​of the organization.

Strengthening actions require planning, guidance to employees and leaders, monitoring to verify the effectiveness of strategies and adjustments.

Ultimately, work ethic will develop and become perceptible as part of the company’s culture with the contribution of each group of agents. 

HR, however, has the role of architecting this so that the expected benefits are actually reaped.

Otherwise, the company may be faced with a disorganized attempt to get people to act ethically in the hope that this will lead to something.

It is true that having ethical employees has positive impacts. But, as we have seen, directing efforts to make proper conduct commonplace can have significant effects . 

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