Integrity in the workplace
Many people are familiar with the term integrity, but not everyone understands what this means when it comes to the workplace. Integrity is a character trait that encompasses honesty, loyalty, dependability, sound judgment, and trustworthiness, even in times when these virtues are difficult to uphold. Here we explore what integrity means, the different types of integrity, and examples of integrity at work.
What does integrity mean at work?
Integrity is a person’s commitment to a firm of code of moral values and is commonly associated with traits like honesty, virtue, accountability, dependability, responsibility, and loyalty. People with integrity display strong ethical and moral principles and uphold these principles no matter the situation. This fundamental value is essential to establishing solid work relationships that are built on trust and is an important trait that employers look for in potential candidates during the hiring process.
Individuals who have integrity also have several other valuable traits, such as self-awareness, truthfulness, and a sense of responsibility for themselves and their work. Employers find employees with integrity to be more reliable and easier to work with than those who don’t possess this important character trait. Displaying integrity in the workplace also encourages colleagues to find more dependable and honest and is more likely to elicit trust from others.
Integrity is important at work for a number of reasons, including that it:
- Makes an individual more attractive to potential employers throughout the hiring process
- Fosters consistency in employees’ work
- Ensures that employees are doing the highest quality of work possible
- Allows individuals to form respectful and trusting relationships with coworkers and managers
- Encourages open and honest communication with others
- Ensures employees regularly abide by company policies and procedures
- Supports responsible behavior in every aspect of a person’s work
- Empowers employees to take responsibility for their work and admit when they are wrong so they can promptly make appropriate changes
Learn more: 5 Qualities You Need to Show in the Job Search
Types and examples of integrity at work
There are several types of integrity that are often seen in the workplace. Here are the most common types as well as examples of integrity in a work setting:
Honesty is an important component of a healthy and successful work environment. This trait involves being honest about a situation or event and encourages communication between colleagues and managers. Being honest allows individuals to take responsibility for their work, improve any areas where they may be lacking, and ask for help when necessary.
Example: Todd is a graphic designer who was assigned a very large project to complete on his own within a two-week timeframe. After a week goes by, Todd realizes that he is not going to able to finish the project within the timeframe without help or an extension of the timeline. Todd could continue to work on the project without asking for help and then make up an excuse or lie at the end of the timeframe as to why he wasn’t able to complete it on time.
Instead, Todd goes to his manager after the first week and is honest about the situation he is in. He asks for help, and his manager assigns two more graphic designers to the project to ensure it’s completed on time. The manager thanks Todd for his honesty and openness about the situation and continues to give Todd challenging projects to work on because the manager trusts Todd’s integrity to accomplish tasks and ask for help when necessary.
Accountability is a core component of integrity and describes a person’s willingness to accept responsibility for their actions. When someone is accountable, they fully understand the impact their actions have and assume responsibility for any consequences that come as a result of their actions.
Example: Sarah is a copyeditor who has recently submitted an edited piece of copy to quality assurance to be double-checked before being sent to the client. The quality assurance team member notifies Sarah that there are some glaring issues with the copy that, if submitted to the client as-is, could have a negative impact on the client’s trust in the company’s ability to produce valuable content for them. Sarah had sent the copy back to the original writer for a few edits before sending it to quality assurance, so she could have simply blamed the writer for the issues.
However, because Sarah was the last person to have possession of the copy and it was her responsibility to ensure all issues were resolved before submitting it to quality assurance, she holds herself accountable for this error. She offers to make the edits necessary to resolve the issues instead of blaming them on the writer and requiring the writer to make the edits.
Sarah’s willingness to hold herself accountable and accept responsibility for actions (missing the issues before submitting to quality assurance) shows her employer that she is a person of integrity, even in tough situations.
Responsibility is another important quality that people with integrity possess. This term refers to a person’s commitment to doing the tasks they are assigned and to accept any consequences that come as a result of completing or not completing these tasks.
Example: Serena is part of a marketing team that had a strict deadline for a project for a client. Serena missed the deadline for completing her portion of the project, and as a result, her team had to move the deadline back and disappointed the client as a result. Rather than blaming her team members for the missed deadline, Serena takes responsibility for missing the deadline she had and offers to speak to the client herself to explain the situation. She also works with her team to address the problem and together they develop ways to prevent the situation from happening again in the future.