Do you have an ethics problem in your organization? Or maybe the ethics of your workers is acceptable but you want to improve them? Perhaps your organization only has a few areas that need to be targeted. The reasons that leaders of an organization would choose to implement ethics training are varied.

The best reason is that good ethics is simply good business.

Overhead view of three people going over workflows

The opposite is also true: Bad ethics is bad business. In fact, over 50% of the largest corporate bankruptcies have occurred because of unethical practices. If that isn’t bad enough, in 2011 these bankruptcies totaled $1.228 trillion or close to 10% of the United States GDP. No business can afford unethical practices.

Yet, knowing this isn’t enough. Good ethics must be taught and reinforced. They don’t just happen. Your employees must be trained in ethical decision-making and behavior. Quality workplace ethics training can improve the morale of your employees, which will also improve the efficiency and profitability of your organization. Engaging and interactive workplace ethics training can foster authentic team building in order to create a cohesive, productive unit. Here are 5 workplace ethics training activities you can implement in your organization now:

Workplace Ethics Training Activity #1: Ethics Dilemma Discussion

In this activity, employees have an opportunity to work through various ethical dilemmas and decide the best route to take. In order to reinforce the desired decision, a leader should discuss what is the best route to take. Some examples may be:

  • You see a coworker harassing another employee, or you see a supervisor harassing or bullying a subordinate. What do you do?
  • A coworker is consistently late, and you know it’s because of their home situation; however, they continue to slide into work unnoticed. Do you say something or not?
  • You hear a colleague make a pejorative slur against another racial or ethnic group. Do you address it?

Activity Directions:

  1. Employees are arranged in groups of four to six. Make sure the groupings are random; ensure that no “cliques” or clusters of friends are put together.
  2. From a set of cards that explain various ethical dilemmas, one is drawn and read aloud to all the groups.
  3. Each group then discusses the variables of the situation and the best way to handle it.
  4. When all groups have reached a decision, the facilitator asks a representative from each group to explain what the group decided.
  5. At this point, the facilitator manages whole group discussion of what would be the best decision and the pros and cons of that and other decisions.

Workplace Ethics Training Activity #2: Role Play Touchy Situations and Crucial Conversations

This activity is best suited for difficult situations that arise quickly and require a prompt response. Usually such situations don’t allow much time for deliberation, so it’s important to have a set plan from the outset and to have walked through it. Some examples may be:

  • You are working in retail and you see a coworker taking from the cash register or overcharging a customer and pocketing the rest. Do you report them?
  • You work in a company that has petty cash and it’s supposed to be turned in everyday, however, you find a coworker who is pocketing the cash.
  • In a group setting, everyone is asked to give a verbal vote or show of hands, you don’t agree but you don’t want to be the only one to disagree. Do you go along or no?

Activity Directions:

  1. The facilitator holds various scenario cards and a participant chooses one.
  2. The facilitator chooses the number of volunteers necessary to role play.
  3. Participants take a few minutes to decide who will play which role, discuss the scenario and the possible outcomes, both good and bad.
  4. Participants act out the scenario with bad decisions as well as the correct, most ethical outcome.
  5. Everyone discuss the outcomes and what would be the best decision.

Workplace Ethics Training Activity #3: Generate Ethical Dilemmas

It is often a great idea to allow your participants to generate ethical dilemmas. One, it saves you a lot of work. Two, it allows them to be creative and provides you the opportunity to see this creativity.

Activity Directions:

  1. Arrange employees in groups of four to six, again with no friend clusters.
  2. Each group brainstorms within itself what are the most tricky or common ethical dilemmas.
  3. They select one dilemma to explore.
  4. On a piece of poster paper, have each group write down their best ethical dilemma and what would be the best decisions to make related to it.
  5. Share out to the entire group.

Workplace Ethics Training Activity #4: Match Up Competition

In this activity, participants match various scenarios with the appropriate and inappropriate responses. Every scenario will have an appropriate and inappropriate answer.

Activity Directions:

  1. Arrange employees in groups of two (any larger and it’s easy for some to not participate).
  2. Each team will be given a set of scenarios with corresponding appropriate and inappropriate actions. These will be shuffled.
  3. Now each team must match up scenarios to actions.
  4. The pair that finishes first wins. Be sure to have a prize, to make the competition fun and engaging.

Workplace Ethics Training Activity #5: Technological Ethics Search and Find

In this activity, employees will use their cell phones to search real world situations that demanded ethical decision making. Once they have found a situation, they will analyze it. This activity is geared especially for millennials who favor the use of technology.

Activity Directions:

  1. Arrange employees into groups of three.
  2. Each group will find an ethical dilemma that has happened in the “real world.” This dilemma should pertain to the business or industry of your company.
  3. Participants will analyze the situation and determine:
  • What was the actual dilemma?
  • What were the possible choices?
  • What was the actual choice taken?
  • What would be the best course of action?

Participants will then share their findings with the whole group.

Every company needs strong workplace ethics training for its employees. With careful planning and action, you can create well-designed workplace ethics training activities that are beneficial for all your employees. The five shared here are a springboard. Feel free to use these and adjust them to best suit your organization or design your own. Just be sure to thoroughly address ethical decision making and behavior. A strong ethical foundation will improve the morale of your employees and increase productivity and profitability.

By: Paul O’Keefe

This article originally appeared on on October 12, 2016. Used by kind permission of Paul O’Keefe and Ethics Training Systems, Inc.