Ethical Communication in the Workplace

Welcome to our learning module about communicating ethically using workplace technology. 

In beginning to discuss ethical workplace e-communication, this module will discuss proper use of e-mail communication, internal messenger systems, and electronic devices.

Ethical communication includes using professional, respectful and safe language across al platforms when using workplace technology, and limiting use of workplace technology to workplace tasks.

  • True

Lets begin!

Talking the Talk

What does electronic communication look like?

According to Langton, Robbins, and Judge (2016), electronic communications makes up a whopping 71% of today's communication in the workplace and has become the go-to choice to communicate in the workplace. 

While the ways in which organizations are personalizing internal communications, some of the most popular are e-mails, internal messaging systems, and technological devices. 

Let's begin to explore these popular forms of communication.

E-mailing in the Workplace

Best Practice's for E-Mail Communication

Over the last number of decades, e-mail has grown in number of users and vastly expanded in the number of e-mail service providers out there.

Among some of the major perks to using e-mail for professional purposes is the ability to save important messages in personalized folders, forwarded to relevant parties which is especially useful to communicate messages to a large number of contacts, and is quicker and cheaper than traditional paper and package based courier services.  

In using e-mail communication in the workplace, there are some areas to remain cautious and ensure ethical communication. Some areas of particular concern are:

  • Confidentiality; be cognizant of sensitive information included in e-mail documents and ensure the correct person is receiving any and all information. The security of an organization can be majorly compromised if any information gets into the wrong hands.
  • Professionalism; use respectful and professional language in all workplace communications to protect yourself and all members of an organization.
  • Relevance; ensure use of workplace e-mail is relevant to the workplace. Workplace e-mail addresses are not designed to forward jokes or communications to home or friends.  

E-mailed jokes and stories received from friends to workplace e-mail addresses should be enjoyed and shared to any other parties who may find the e-mail entertaining.

  • Workplace e-mail isn't the right place to be sharing personal content.

Internal Messaging Systems

Best Practice's for Internal Messaging

Internal Messaging Systems are a growing form of intraoffice communications; employees are able to chat and communicate quickly and in real-time. Easily communicated points or short questions and answers can be messaged back and forth quickly, providing immediate feedback, without much interruption to employees flow of production; where applicable, a quick message can be used in place of a phone call or face-to-face communication. 

Some caution must be exercised in using Internal Messaging Systems, some areas to be attentive to include:

  • Confidentiality; while the internal nature of these systems ensures only members of the organization are accessible on instant messaging chat contact lists, there is still a responsibility to ensure sensitive information is protected. Not all employees are privy to all information. 
  • Appropriate Usage; even if information being communicated is brief, to ensure safety and confidentiality of sensitive information, accuracy of information  being shared or to document important conversations, anything other than quick commentary and questions should be saved for e-mail or face-to-face communication 
  • Work-friendly; messages should always be professional, respectful, and appropriate for the work place. 

It is improper use of Internal Messaging Systems to communicate employee's hours and staffing between payroll officers.

  • Yes, this kind of communication is better suited for face-to-face communication or e-mailing documents.

Technological Devices

Best Practice's for Technological Devices

Organizations are becoming more modern in the workplace and implementing usage of digital technology, such as providing some employees with company smart phones, or making use of iPads or tablets in the workplace to demonstrate the use of company "apps", make services better accessible, or conduct customer satisfaction surveys. 

The relevance of using such technology in the workplace is to ensure organizations can remain best productive and efficient, as well as competitive. 

Ethics must remain a dimension of consideration when designing and implementing the usage of technological devices, some of the considerations are as follows: 

  • Confidentiality; from company cell phones in the hands of some employees to customer information as pertains satisfaction surveys, security is crucial. Locks, passwords, and various protective softwares are necessary to ensure confidentiality. 
  • Appropriate Usage; ensure that any activity conducted on company technology complies with all the organization's codes of conducts and pertinent legislation. 

In short, electronic communication in the workplace are exposed to risks that can make conduct unethical; in exercising caution across all platforms, electronic communication can be effective, efficient, and ethical.

Let's try some final skill-testing questions !

Which of the following is not a concern when considering ethics of electronic communication?

  • Font size
  • Confidentiality
  • Workplace Related Content

Considering the nature of Internal Messaging Systems, which of the following is the best-suited use?

  • "Is the job aid for selling a sundry draft under the funds transferred tab?"
  • "Did you hear that the boss had a very serious conversation with Roberta?"
  • "I need to submit the week's payroll hours for Joe, but I was thinking, do you think he should get a raise this quarter?"

Thank you!

Materials used:

Langton, Robbins, and Judge (2016). Organizational Behaviour: Concepts, Controversies, and Applications.