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Ethical Issues in the Workplace

Ethical Issues in the Workplace

Professionals today come across various kinds of ethical issues in the workplace. The Workspirited article below will throw light on some of these ethical issues and dilemmas.
Aastha Dogra
Last Updated: Feb 7, 2018
Technically speaking, ethics is a branch of philosophy, which deals with questions about a person's morality and values. Ethical dilemmas occur when a person has to choose between the right and wrong or the good and bad. In our personal lives, ethics such as honesty, loyalty, truth, and commitment doing the right thing, and commitment are highly valued. But what about workplace ethics? Are the same values upheld in organizations today?
The basic goal of any business is to make profits and the people working in organizations today can go to any length to achieve that, even if it means compromising on one's ethics. Also, the success of an individual in an organization depends on how much he is contributing towards the business. Therefore, employees may overlook ethics in many situations for their personal benefits. At the same time, it has been observed that businesses who follow a culture of ethics create a lot of goodwill for themselves in the market as well as among their customers, thus making them highly successful in the long run. The following paragraphs give you a brief idea about corporate ethical issues.
Examples of Ethical Issues in the Workplace
Dilemma 1
Let's say, a client of the company is facing some financial problems. He buys certain products from your company at a very high rate, which he can get at a much cheaper price from one of your competitors. Now, the ethical issue is, should you communicate the same to your client? Or should you remain silent as long as it does not affect you personally.
Dilemma 2
The company plans to launch a skin cream in the market and one of its ingredients may be harmful for the health of the users in the long run. As an employee, should you be part of such a project?
Dilemma 3
The company is actually running into losses, but the management of the company inflates the profits in the financial statements to appease the share holders, lenders, and the customers. Is this ethical?
The list of may go on further, depending on varying circumstances. These are encountered by employees and managers on a daily basis. The question of ethics may arise in issues that as small as using the office photocopy machine for a personal use, to as big as selling unhealthy or harmful products in the market.
Handling Workplace Ethical Issues
  • Modern organizations today do focus mainly on profit-making, yet there is a new trend being observed and that is bringing back ethics to the workplace.
  • Various multinationals today have incorporated ethics training for all their employees, right from those working at the junior level to the CEO of the company.
  • This helps promote the understanding of what ethics are how can they benefit the company in the long run.
  • These days, many companies design their own ethics' training programs, which offer practical solutions to employees facing ethical dilemmas.
  • These programs focus on two things - point 1, there is nothing wrong if an employee finds himself in an ethical dilemma, and point 2 - they offer written resources on how to work through these ethical dilemmas.
  • These resources give a kind of framework to the employees on the basis of which they can take the right decisions.
  • Basing a rewards system on ethics and values along with on one's performance is another way of ethics promotion among the employees, which is being employed by many organizations.
  • It has also been observed that organizations promoting values and ethics have many advantages vis-a-vis other organizations.
  • Its employees do not experience a lot of stress, as they do not have to compromise on their values.
  • Secondly, any kind of misconduct is immediately reported to the right person in the organization.
  • Thirdly, instances of misconduct get minimized and the overall satisfaction of the employees increases, as such organizations offer a 'feel-good' environment.
Ethical issues can be resolved if proper procedures for the same are in place in any given organization. Upholding ethics promotes a better working environment and a good reputation for the business, both of which contribute to high work productivity and profits.
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