19 Jul, 2016

Employee Ethics: Solutions for Creating a Culture of Accountability

Creating a culture of employee accountability starts with you.
19 Jul, 2016

Creating a culture of employee accountability starts with you.

In a workplace with a culture of accountability, both employees and their employers hold themselves accountable for the work they perform. They value good time management, integrity, and the quality of their daily contributions to the company. Such a culture is highly conducive to productivity and consistent quality–something every company strives to achieve. So, how does one foster a culture of accountability in their own workplace? While each company’s approach may differ based on their unique circumstances, there are a number of things all leaders can do to encourage accountability among their employees. The following tips will help you get started.

Earn Their Trust

Trust, especially between leaders and their employees, is a two-way street. Any violation of trust, from either party, can have a negative impact on both company culture and productivity. Accountability for said violations, however, is sometimes neglected. If an employee violates their manager’s trust, they can typically expect punishment–but what happens when a manager betrays their employees’ trust? With no one to hold them accountable, leaders need to make an effort to show that they’re accountable to their team. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but demonstrating a dedication to transparency and accessibility to employees is a great first step.


Employers who want to retain their employees’ trust, especially during tough times, have to be willing to embrace transparency. If bad news needs to be delivered or a demoralizing rumor is spreading among your workforce, a leader should approach the subject openly and with a cool head. Withholding information only serves to convince employees that they cannot take you at your word and can even imply that they have something to fear.

Transparency encourages employee trust
An open door policy shows employees that you're available.


The philosophy of the open door policy has been both lauded and maligned by business leaders for years. Whether you love it or hate it, having such a policy does demonstrate to employees that you’re willing and ready to listen at all times. This can be a great boost to morale during times of uncertainty when employees need to see that their leader is both present and accessible.

An employee who does not trust their leaders is less likely to value their contribution to the company, let alone make personal accountability a priority. If your employees have yet to earn your trust, try meeting them halfway by showing your dedication to earning their trust.

Monitoring vs. Micromanaging

Nothing kills morale faster than a leader who makes their employees feel like they’re being watched and critiqued at all times. On the other hand, some employees benefit from a sense of supervision and are much more likely to complete tasks in a timely manner if they know they’re being monitored. So, how do you strike a balance between adequate supervision and employee autonomy? Some have found the answer by adopting tech-based monitoring solutions and implementing these into their workplace.

These solutions include everything from biometric scanners that prevent “buddy punching” to GPS vehicle tracking systems that let companies know where their drivers are and how they’re behaving behind the wheel. These monitoring solutions allow companies to unobtrusively supervise their employees without making the latter feel like they’re being watched all the time. The result is a workplace in which employees know they’re being held accountable for their actions, employers are able to supervise what and when they need to, and no one has to micromanage anyone else.

Personalization and Goal-Setting

When employees have clear personal goals to follow, they can see the big picture impact of the various tasks they’re assigned to. This can be invaluable when it comes to personal accountability, as it gives employees a concrete benchmark to work towards–as opposed to an abstract, company-wide goal they would otherwise be held responsible for.

Setting Goals

Most are familiar with the SMART method of goal-setting, which can be a great place to start when encouraging employees to set and work towards their own professional goals. Consider having each employee meet with their immediate supervisor at least twice regarding these goals–once to brainstorm and set them, and then once more later to assess how well the employee met each goal.

Set SMART goals
Individualized goals help employees succeed.

Individualized Standards

No two employees are exactly the same, therefore no two employees will necessarily benefit from being held to the exact same standards. Don’t worry–this doesn’t mean you have to throw your expectations out the window and adopt an entirely new performance review system. Simply adapting your current standards to support the strengths and address the weaknesses of each individual employee could go a long way towards creating a system wherein employees feel empowered to meet expectations.

Creating a culture of accountability in your workplace may require some adaptation on the part of both the employees and the management, but the potential benefits are worth it. When everyone knows that they will be held accountable–and exactly what they will be held accountable for–it makes everyone else’s jobs much easier.