Latest EY Survey Shows that Ethics Matter

Employees want clearer policies around compliance. The survey also finds that millennials lack clarity on what constitutes unethical behaviour.

A new study by EY shows that workers in Asia-Pacific (APAC) want to work for ethical organisations. The desire to work for an ethical organisation is strong: more than two in five (44%) in APAC and a-third (33%) in Singapore say they would accept a lower salary if it meant working for an ethical employer. Those surveyed were also asked if they think their senior management would ignore unethical behaviour and condone misconduct to meet business targets. 49% in APAC and 42% in Singapore think their senior management would ignore unethical behaviour to achieve corporate revenue targets.

This means that the role of ethics and compliance affect talent attraction. Going forward, companies can create clearer compliance frameworks and make decisions where leaders act in an ethical manner. This will aid in talent attraction and retention.

The survey also found that many workers are confused by what is expected of them. Eighty-five percent of APAC respondents (Singapore in 76%) want their organisation’s corporate compliance policies to be simplified and localised to make them more understandable.

Companies need to communicate more on ethical behaviour in a simple and direct manner.

Managing millennials

Employees are receiving mixed messages from senior management causing them to mistrust the organisation because of the lack of clarity and consistency. Ethical business is a key to millennial retention.

Based on the survey, millennials employees are more likely than any other age group to be prepared to offer cash payments to win or retain business (APAC: 38% vs. 28% for all other age groups, Singapore: 45% vs. 21% for all other age groups); and would extend monthly reporting periods (APAC: 42% vs. 31% for other age groups, Singapore: 39% vs. 34% for other age groups) to meet financial targets. While millennials say that they want to work for ethical organisations, they are confused by where to draw the line. 

Belinda Tan, Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, Ernst & Young Advisory Pte. Ltd, says: “This is a wake-up call for businesses to revisit their compliance programs, invest more in education and lead by example. On the one hand, millennials feel it is okay to behave unethically in some situations. Yet on the other hand, they take a strong stand against working for an unethical business. This discrepancy needs to be addressed early and quickly to help ensure businesses hire and retain the best young talent, who will form their future workforce.”

As well, while 83% of millennials in APAC and 69% in Singapore say they would look for a new job if their organisation was involved in a major fraud, bribery or corruption case. Reuben Khoo, Managing Partner, EY ASEAN Leader, Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, Ernst & Young Advisory Pte. Ltd, notes that millennials also voice that they are reluctant to join a company that does not have a good image. This generational group is more vocal in highlighting what they are seeing and that guidelines do not show the ‘right’ way. They are voicing that they are confused. Khoo explains that this is an opportunity for companies to be clear on compliance and ethics, and in turn, leverage this to attract talent.  

The EY APAC Fraud Survey 2017 shows that millennials are less willing for work for unethical companies that but millennials may also not know what constitutes as unethical. Going forward, companies should work towards creating clearer policies and consistently implement these practices.

The EY APAC Fraud Survey 2017, Economic uncertainty/Unethical conduct: How should over-burdened compliance functions respond? surveyed 1,698 employees from large businesses in 14 Asia-Pacific territories, including 105 from Singapore.

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