Zero Tolerance: Balance is the Key

Zero Tolerance: Balance is the Key


In order to protect their reputation against scandals and to keep their employees from practicing unethical behaviour, various companies and organisations apply the zero tolerance policy. This entails strictly refusing to accept failure to adhere to the law, antisocial conduct and other forms of misconduct.

The Ethics Institute of South Africa warns companies and organisations that the zero tolerance policy can have adverse effects. The issue is caused by the stringency of the rules and regulations that they implement for their employees. One needs to realise that enforcing such laws does not allow employees to apply a natural sense of right and wrong but instead forces them to adapt behaviour that is mechanically practised and not internalised. This is not the right mentality for employees to have as it can cause them to form a negative attitude towards rules thus they begin to apply the “what is not banned isn’t wrong” outlook.

If employees do not have intrinsic integrity, they will try to find loopholes in the rules instead of accepting what is right and wrong in terms of behaviour.


  • Companies and organisations need to make employees realise that ethical conduct will benefit them and the company or organisation they work for;
  • Employees should be publically praised and rewarded for good, ethical behaviour; and
  • Enforcement and ‘checking up’ on employees should not be focused on.

Along with the above solutions, companies and organisations still need to establish a firm policy that leaders should abide by in order to set standards for those working beneath them and consequences for unethical conduct should still be set in place.

Balance is the key.


Source: HR Future

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