Over the years, social etiquettes, norms and taboos have undergone a sea change and a lot of these changes have also affected our approach to work and our professional lives. Workplaces now need more focus on the environment, while maintaining a healthy work culture is now one of the key focal points of the HR.
As work takes up more of an employee’s time, the employees in turn expect more honesty and integrity from their organisations. Therefore, good business ethics is directly proportional to a company’s chances of hiring and retaining the best among the workforce.
Several ethical dilemmas can and do crop up in the lifetime of an organisation. The changing pace and functioning of the world also gives rise to many situations where the question of ethicality becomes central in finding a solution. Both the employees and the employers are faced with various pressures that can push them towards wrong business behaviour or decisions that might not be ethically correct.
Financial security pressures, increased competition, ever-changing power dynamics, constant technological advancements and resultant skill upgrade requirements, combined with societal pressures of personal commitments and responsibilities; and above all environmental pressures—all these parameters demand actions consistently and these might not always be ethical.
When high profile companies falter on the ethical point, it is widely known and also the image of the company takes a wide hit too. For example, the Google Walkout highlighted a lot of chinks in the ethical armour of the company that’s supposed to be a dream job destination for many millennial workers. Similarly, medium and small sized organisations too stand to damage their reputation and credibility in front of employees and customers alike in such cases. Besides, in this heightened social media aware days, it happens in lesser time and in wider range.
The HR aid
The HR is the central point of contact and operation whenever the ethical conduct of an organisation is being talked about. The ramifications of enhanced employee-employer interaction vis-a-vis employee rights and privacy can be many.
Thus, the HR needs to:
- Propagate and maintain an ethical culture within a company
- Recruit a workforce that will set as well as uphold the desirable ethical climate in a company
- Resolve ethical conflicts with transparency, integrity and impartiality
- Handle the impact of the conflict with care and fairness
Business ethics need a global perspective these days and equally refined reasoning skills to enhance the levels of ethical judgement. There should be clearly defined ethical protocols in place to be readily applied to situations of crisis. A major responsibility of the HR in the realm of business ethics should be avoidance of escalation.
The ethical code
The importance of the business ethics of the HR is evident from the fact that they are the moral compass of an organisation, whether it is a start-up or a multinational entity. The starting point for HR in this regard, should be to keep on the right side of the law. This includes a thorough awareness of the country’s labour laws and compliance practices.
Moreover, HR needs to define their blanket priorities as employee’s professional development as well as the organisation’s reputation and work with these goals in mind. These include, retaining employee loyalty, safeguarding personal information and enhancing the reputation of the company as an ethical employer.
Workplaces are now more collaborative and interaction based places, more creative, and thereby, stimulating to our personal needs and efficacy. However, the demand for productivity has soared too and we are precariously trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Technology has redefined accessibility and blurred the boundaries of personal space. In this scenario, the need of ethical practise is increasingly crucial.