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Memo to Managers
Managing Generational Diversity in the Workforce—The Ethics and Compliance Perspective
As a manager, you are no stranger to generational diversity in the workplace. With the influx of millennial workers, you are now managing employees from up to three or even four different generations. And the millennials that everyone is talking about will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020.
So from an ethics and compliance perspective what does this mean for you as a manager? Here are three things to consider.
1) Don’t make the mistake of doing things just for millennials or using loaded language (rife with generational or age based stereotypes). That’s a sure-fire way to get your efforts to backfire, and possibly end up being the subject of an age discrimination lawsuit. What you need to focus on is improving the ethics and compliance conversation for every worker, regardless of age. The more we get our employees talking about doing the right thing, the better we will become at recognizing what that is, and executing against it.
2) Understand the needs of your evolving employee population. Research from the Ethics Resource Center concludes that workers between the ages of 19 and 29 are in a significant area of vulnerability in terms of unethical conduct. So the younger you are the more likely you may be to make an ethical mistake. Ensure that all employees (including new employees) have access to ethics and compliance training, that they get to know key internal resources, and that you personally support a speak up culture that allows them to raise concerns and ask questions.
3) Recognize and embrace the new more social and collaborative workplace. It’s not just about millennials; workplaces today are fast becoming a place where ideas can be openly discussed and challenged, information is more readily available to everyone and learning happens more organically and informally. And it’s not just millennials that will benefit from these changes—all employees will see the positive impact.
To support this trend consider your role in fostering that type of work environment for all your employees (regardless of generation) with these ideas:
- Encourage peer-to-peer learning relating to ethics and compliance topics, creating opportunities for your team to maximize the benefit of each other’s’ experience and perspectives.
- Invite the ethics and compliance department to come and talk with your department or team. The more familiar your team is with the organization’s values and objectives, the more aligned they are likely to become with them.
- Identify ethics and compliance mentors on your team that can help employees work through challenging situations, and direct employees to the right internal resources if further guidance is needed.
If you need additional help addressing these issues on your team, please contact HR, the ethics and compliance team, or our legal team. They can help you get to the root causes of an issue and, if necessary, get your team back on the right track.
Question of the Month
Q. An older member of my team seems to frequently pick on a younger member. He says he’s joking, but comments like, “How would you know, you weren’t even born yet!” make me concerned about how the younger members of my team are receiving his jokes. What should I do?
A: Whatever your age, jokes and teasing can be poorly received. Whether there is ill intent or not doesn’t matter. Making someone feel less welcome or belittling their ideas stifles open conversation, breeds resentment and can result in declines in productivity. And in some cases, jokes about age can even lead to litigation. It’s your responsibility to help create an environment of mutual respect. Start by cutting off the disrespectful comments when they occur, and make sure to follow up immediately with a direct and private conversation with the employee who made the comments. Once you have had your conversation, speak with the employee who was the target of the jokes, to let him or her know that you have addressed it and that he or she should let you know if anything further happens.
Robust ethics and compliance training programs not only have the ability to help protect organizations from legal, financial, regulatory and reputational risk, they are also instrumental in creating a corporate culture that helps inspire ethical behavior. Download our 2015 Ethics & Compliance Training Benchmark Report today to get data and practical recommendations to make better decisions and take your E&C training program to the next level.
Using Compliance Communicator
Equipping managers with the skills they need to navigate the E&C challenges they face is critical. Use the content in Compliance Communicator to help keep compliance top of mind with your managers and strengthen your organizational culture. NAVEX Global grants you permission to publish any or all of the content to best suit your needs.
For more valuable content from our Advisory Services team, subscribe to our blog, Ethics & Compliance Matters™. You’ll find perspectives on the latest E&C trends that impact your program, and get insights on increasing program effectiveness.