Work/Life Balance Can Help Ethical Behavior

April 17, 2007 ( - Most respondents in a recent survey asserted that workers are more likely to be ethical when they enjoy a healthy balance between their work and home lives.

A Deloitte & Touche news release about its survey said 91% believed in an ethics-balance work/life connection. Workers cited high levels of stress (28%), long hours (25%) and inflexible schedule (13%) as the causes of work/life conflict.

According to the announcement, 60% of employed adults surveyed think that job dissatisfaction is a leading cause of unethical workplace behavior and more than half of workers (55%) ranked a flexible work schedule among the top three factors leading to job satisfaction, behind compensation (63%).

Generally, according to the news release, the behaviors of management and direct supervisors, coupled with positive reinforcement for ethical behavior, are the top factors for promoting ethical behavior in the workforce.

“In the competitive environment to attract and retain talent, it is imperative that employers provide employees with the means to attain a healthy work-life balance,” said Sharon Allen, Chairman of the Board at Deloitte & Touche USA, in the news release. “When you think about it, if someone invests all of their time and energy into their jobs, it may have the unintended consequence of making them dependent on their jobs for everything – including their sense of personal worth. This makes it even harder to make a good choice when faced with an ethical dilemma if they believe it will impact their professional success.”

The survey also revealed the important impact management and supervisors have in promoting ethical workplace behaviors, according to the announcement. Employed adults ranked the behavior of management (42%) and direct supervisors (36%) as the top two factors contributing to the promotion of an ethical workplace.

Some 10% of employed adults ranked criminal penalties for violation of Code of Conduct among the top three factors that help foster an ethical workplace environment, while only 16% ranked ethics training as a factor that has a positive influence on promoting ethical behavior.

Harris Interactive conducted this online survey on behalf of Deloitte & Touche USA between February 20 and February 22, 2007 among 1,041 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older who are employed full time and/or part time.