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Work Place Ethics

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Autor: 24  •  April 4, 2011  •  4,183 Words (17 Pages)  •  1,040 Views

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To have ethical behavior and integrity in the workplace it is essential to create an effective value-based code of ethics that is followed by all. A strong deterrent to unethical behavior is ethical leadership. The perception of an employee is greatly based upon what they hear and more important what they see from their superiors. What then are the downfalls of unethical behavior in the workplace? In today's workplace, all over the world, you can find behaviors of misconduct from both employer and employee alike. Many companies are creating a set code of ethics to maintain discipline amongst staff. From the highest CEO down to the student intern, ethics are an important part of any work environment.


Before we look at ethical behavior, we must first define what ethics is. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines "ethics" as "the moral principles governing or influencing conduct." The negative effect of unethical behavior in executives and managers in the workplace has spawned many employers to review what ethics in the workplace actually means. Most of us have worked for one or more companies. I'm sure we have all experienced staff that exercise unethical behaviors. Some infractions may appear small while others are larger. The bottom line is that no matter what the misconduct is, it interrupts the smooth flow of any organization. Unethical behaviors could be stealing products or money from the company or worse sexual harassment. Ethics in the workplace is what helps to keep the playing field fair and harmonious.

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Case study 1

Let's look at an example where unethical behavior negatively affected a work environment. This is an example that took place in a correctional facility and it eventually affected two officers directly and the entire staff for many years to come. For the purpose of this example only first names have been used.

The Minnesota department of Corrections mandates that well-being checks shall be performed at least every half hour in a correctional facility. In this facility this means that an officer will walk around the perimeter of the jail on the catwalk where they can directly observe what is happening in a cell, do a head count and speak with inmates regarding any issues they may have.

The problem in this incident in question started during the well-being checks (cell checks as they are called). An officer named Dawn was working the night shift. She was doing a cell check when an inmate named Ben stopped her to "just chat". It started out innocently enough. Soon Dawn began to have a fondness for Ben, and she would readily volunteer to go on cell checks during the shift rather than allow other officers to take their turns doing them.

This went on for some time, until Ben was eventually released. What occurred thereafter was what constituted a misjudgment in ethical behavior. An officer named Jim was working the night shift one night (Dawn was off). The facility is small, and since it is part of the Sheriff's Office, the radios carried by the detention officers is on the same channel the deputies and

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dispatch use. Jim heard a call go out for a burglary in progress at what turned out to be his address. Jim quickly left work and sped home, meeting the deputies and local police at his house.

One of the perpetrators was immediately caught. The individual was a friend of the aforementioned Ben who had been housed in the jail. As the investigation continued it was discovered that Dawn had given Ben and his friend a tip as to when Jim would be at work.

It was also discovered that Dawn had sexual relations with Ben while he was still at the jail. Dawn broke many rules and regulations, not to mention to part in very unethical

behavior, and in doing so compromised the security of her fellow officers. The two men involved spent more time in jail and Dawn ended up losing her job. She was also sent to serve time in jail, but this time on the opposite side of the bars.

This incident affected the trust the officers at this facility had in each other for quite some time. This incident hurt morale, and caused officers to be more closed off to each other for some time. The attitude being "if you can't trust your fellow officer, who can you trust?" This ended up being very detrimental to the day-to-day teamwork, which normally ran like a well-oiled machine at this facility.

This incident had a negative affect on ethical behavior, because years after the incident, new employees to the jail were getting scrutinized more heavily than before. Background investigations were now a grueling process, and new employees had to prove themselves to the veteran officers before they were considered "one of the team". This is a prime example of what the fallout of unscrupulous and unethical behavior can result in, in the workplace.

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Due to examples such as the last of unethical behavior in the workplace, companies are establishing value codes of conduct that enforce honesty and fairness amongst staff. Company heads realize the importance of staff on all levels being treated fairly. They know that the workplace can be a stressful environment and an easy target for lawsuits from those that have been subjected to unethical misconduct, especially when supervisors are the ones that condone and display examples of poor ethical behaviors. In today's work force the "Do as I say, not as I do" mentality is no longer an acceptable management technique. Some larger companies have even implemented an Ethics Hotline, allowing employees and even customers to call in and report unethical behaviors. Research showed that 60% of the tips to the hotline came from employees. One of the advantages of these hotlines was, it prevented management from being directly involved with the hotline itself so as to allow trust with the employees who come forward with the information of unethical behavior.

In all aspects of the work environment it is important to have established codes of conduct, such as how employees are to act on the job, rules of engagement, and proper procedures for issues of conflict. This is to insure that on the job, people maintain a certain level of ethical behavior to make the workplace as respectable as possible. For example: If Mrs. Jones comes in late and gets reprimanded


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