Why does every large corporation have a detailed handbook or manual of ethics and code of conduct? Why do many organizations hold workshops and sessions on ethics every year for employees and leaders alike? It is basic human decency to speak and act in a particular manner, irrespective of where one is. Decency in the workplace is one of the core drivers for success.
What is Decency Quotient
Bill Boulding, the Dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business said, “DQ means wanting something positive for everyone in the workplace and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued.” In his Harvard Business Review article he wrote, “For leaders, Decency is just as important as intelligence. DQ implies a person has not only empathy for employees and colleagues but also the genuine desire to care for them.”
Decency Quotient (DQ) in the office is today just as important as the EQ (emotional quotient) and IQ (intelligence quotient). With increased competition, a move towards gig economy and hybrid work-places, decency quotient becomes an essential attribute that organizations will look for in employees. Maintaining a certain level of behaviour speaks volumes about an organization’s culture. In most start-ups today, the average age group of employees is generally between 25-40 years. The values that they bring to the work-place will create the work-place culture for the future. It is therefore vital to focus on DQ along with IQ and EQ to create a positive work environment.
Why is Decency Quotient Important?
Whether it’s between colleagues or teammates or between a manager and subordinate, a certain level of formality and professionalism is mandated. Employees come from different backgrounds, religious beliefs, values, income groups, etc. When a culture of high DQ is imbibed and inculcated by the organizational leadership, it creates a sense of belonging and trust among employees. It reassures the employees that in times of crisis, the leaders will take decisions for the greater good.
Let’s explore few reasons why Decency Quotient is so important:
- Employee morale – basic decency when communicating and interacting is integral in boosting employee morale. It promotes emotional security within the team. It helps build trust and empathy between peers and an employee and organization. If managers and leaders do right by their employees, better security, trust, and compassion are developed within the team, bringing about care and respect, thus improving the work-place atmosphere. If basic trust is not in place, nothing else will matter.
- Productivity – when employee morale is high, teamwork and cooperation is productive and efficient. It motivates employees to be honest, loyal, positive, and hard-working. Work gets done with integrity, adhering to the organization’s targets, goals, and values. Employees feel valued and will put in the required hours to ensure productive output. It all starts with having basic Decency in place.
- Leaders of tomorrow – the interesting thing about DQ is that it plays a crucial role in making better leaders for tomorrow. When Decency, ethics, and moral behavior are emphasized, the employees who become leaders will lead by that same example. It brings about a cycle of good outcomes. For example, if respect is a core value but leaders tend to make unrealistic demands or are dismissive, employees will not respect their manager. There will be close to zero motivation to work hard or to be honest. There is also a significant trickle-down effect. There will be a genuine desire to always lead in the way they have been led. Employees tend to ape their leader, which makes or breaks teams and whole organizations. Decency is also a fundamental principle for sensitive matters like layoffs. A certain amount of empathy in a leader’s approach is critical to the emotional reaction from the employee. Layoffs can tear an employee’s world apart. If it’s not approached with Decency, repercussions can be brutal.
- Company culture – a positive environment and culture develop when all teammates, colleagues, and leaders inculcate a high DQ behavior. It makes the company a happier place to work at. Everyone follows social norms and has these essential humane traits within them. When this is adopted even in the office, it promotes a better vibe, genuine efforts are put in towards work, and it even creates a company image. Employees look forward to coming to the office, rather than making us excuses to take leave or call in sick. Company assets are better protected because employees are more honest and loyal. It also leads to lower attrition rates in the long run.
- Business success – all of the above leads to the most important of all – business success. When companies adhere to and create a culture of high decency quotient, the business impact is substantial. Better leaders, higher employee morale, a positive culture is required to ensure improve productivity and ensure that sales are high, and service level to customers is impeccable.
In Steve Harrison and Jim Lukaszewski’s ‘Decency Code’ they prescribe that the ‘reporting of public companies as well as larger private companies needs to incorporate palpable evidence of their intentional ethic: developing and maintaining a civil culture; designing programs to promote the workplace as an ethical, desirable environment; rewarding values-based behavior, honesty, and integrity as much as profitability.’ This will ultimately demonstrate the actual level of decency quotient in a workplace.
Building a culture that inspires a sense of purpose and respect, empowers employees to do their best daily. When this becomes a metric in a certain sense, it is taken more seriously in the office. This is the start and finish in a business’s journey to success and an employee’s road to growth.