Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants are the backbones of companies and their managers’ right arms. They urge those in this field to continue professional development in their careers to become indispensable. The role of Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants has shifted; now, Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants are an extension of their manager. This means Virtual Assistant ethics are extremely important.
Many assistants fear being replaceable if they speak up about unethical behaviours in the workplace. The fear is enough so that loyalty is a more considerable asset than ethical behaviour in many instances. We now see recent examples that even witnesses to non-ethical behaviour can be held legally responsible. So what ethical responsibilities need to be upheld by Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants? Do the terms of responsibility change when held to a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement?
The fact is that Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants are valuable assets to their company. As an extension of their manager, they hold knowledge about many valuable clients and stakeholders. According to the Harvard Business Review, “avoiding a toxic worker was worth about $12,500 in turnover costs”. Therefore, it’s valuable to companies to end workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and other unethical components that lead to unsafe work environments.
When discussing unethical behaviour in the workplace, it is essential to acknowledge the role of all involved. If you are aware of unethical conduct, you bear responsibility as a witness.
A study conducted by Executive Secretary Magazine on administrative professional workplace bullying stated, the person bullied 41 percent of respondents they reported to directly, 20 percent were bullied by another manager or someone senior to them, and their peers were bullying 20 percent. If you see something, say something.
Change starts with the leaders who will enforce zero-tolerance policies. Encourage your company to work to implement an integrated accountability system that begins at the top. They may need to create new expectations when employees start and discuss the new expectations with those already employed. Whether you are the manager attempting to implement Virtual Assistant ethics, or an employee, you can be the leader in making change.
If you’ve encountered unethical behaviour, you hold a responsibility to the company to come forward. Handle it professionally by putting it in writing, informing upper management, and asking for a meeting. If your superior is inflicting unethical behaviour, speak directly to the bully calmly and with facts. Document instances so you have a written record, and if the problem persists, or is more serious, report the incident to human resources.
Unethical behaviour in the workplace leads to damaged productivity, profit and retention. It is everyone at the company’s responsibility to create a safe work environment. As Virtual Assistants and Administrative Assistants, there will be times when you come to face with unethical conduct, and it’s your responsibility to handle it legally, professionally, and ethically.
Have that discussion with your managers and peers and discuss where ethics falls into your confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreement. Having that meeting with your colleagues starts the conversation for the future. It help clarifies to everyone how will handle unethical situations.
When these situations arise, ensure you understand and communicate your non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements, start the conversation with your manager, and report unethical behaviour in a professional and documented manner. If actions don’t change or your company or manager responds in negative ways, it’s advisable to reevaluate your employment situation. Follow these three steps for better Virtual Assistant ethics.
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