Ethics in Human Resource Management - in Human Resource Management ... • Ethics in Wage and Salary Administration ... of questions arise regarding the wage and salary administrations ethical issues

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  • Chapter 12

    Ethics in Human Resource Management

    Introduction Ethics in Job Design

    Ethics in Human Resource Planning

    Ethics in Recruitment and Selection

    Ethics in Training and Development

    Ethics in Career Development

    Ethics in Performance Evaluation

    Ethics in Wage and Salary Administration

    Ethics in Layoffs

    Ethical Guidelines



    Human Resource Management is the process of acquiring, training, appraising andcompensating employees and attending to their labor relations, health, safety and fairnessconcern. The policies and practices involved in carrying out the People or HR aspects of amanagement position, including recruiting, screening, training, rewarding and appraising.

    HR management activities like recruiting, hiring, training, compensation, apprisingand developing employees is part of every manager job. Its also a separate staff functionand that the H.R. managers assist all managers in many important ways.

    As far as HRM is concerned, what is ethical and what is unethical in general may notbe easy to answer. As we know that ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good orbad and with moral duty and obligations. An organizations human resource policies and


    practices represent important forces for shaping employee behavior and attitudes. Thusthere is a close linkage between HRM and ethics. Ethics in HRM can be defined as Functioning and Performing HRM policies and practices with some standards norms,managing human resources so that mutual benefits can be achieved.

    To understand the role of ethics in HRM, we go through the separate parts of humanresource management and see how each one is related with ethical implications.


    An understanding of job/work design can help executives to design and redesign job insuch a way that it positively affects employee motivation. It includes work simplification,job rotation, job enlargement, job enrichment, job sharing, independent work teams,dejobbing and empowering the workforce.

    (i) Job RotationJob rotation takes place when any employee suffers from over reutilization of his work.Then the employee is rotated to another job, at the same level that has similar skillrequirements but sometimes we find some unethical issues like rotating the worker in thekinds of jobs where no innovative perspectives are present and the periodic shifts of workersmay be the outcome of some conflicts among workers and employees who are involved injob design.

    (ii) Work SimplificationIt means simplifying the work of the employee, so they can understand it well and performto full of their skills. The unethical issue has come in to the picture when work is oversimplified that lead to boredom, more mistakes, less interests and tendering resignations.

    (iii) Job EnlargementJob enlargement is nothing but the horizontal expansion of jobs. This concept was introducedground 40 years back. It increases the number and variety of tasks that an individual hasto perform. Though motivational impacts are there of job enlargement, yet it may sometimesresult in much more boring tasks.

    (iv) Job EnrichmentJob enrichment is nothing but the vertical expansion of job. In fact to deal with the shortcomings of job enlargement, it has been introduced to deal with the shortcomings ofenlargement.

    In an enriched job, an employee would do the work with complete activities, morefreedom and increased responsibility. The only thing which should be handled carefully isto take care while selecting the employee whose job should be enriched.

    (v) Job SharingJob sharing is simply the practice of having two or more people split a 40 hour week job. Sopeople find it as an opportunity to get an experience of two heads. The unethical issue


    involve here is to intentionally involve two person to do single job who do not successfullycoordinate.

    (vi) DejobbingDejobbing is the practice in this global environment which checks the companies fromoverstaffing to prepare committed employees. But it is more suitable for the competitivemarkets. It is not ethical to go for dejobbing if not required at all.

    (vii) EmpowermentIn this option employees go for requiring skills and additional knowledge to do the job inwhich they have their interest and aptitude.


    Human resource planning is an interpreted approach to performing personnel function inorder to have a sufficient supply of adequately developed and motivated people to performthe duties and tasks, required to meet organizational objectives and satisfy the individualneeds and goals of the organizational members.

    Thus the main objective behind HRP is to get workforce in the desired form of theorganization. A successful human resource planner is the one who plans out for humanresources in such a way that in future the firm will get adequately developed skilledpeople to carry out the activities and contribute in the firms growth. So if we apply ethicsin HRP what can be said is the main theme of utilitarian theory which suggest if out comeof any event or activity is well it is ethical. Thus we can say that if the manager is able tore-plan for that kind of workforce who will be really required and proved out the best it isethical. But, if not it comes out as unethical conduct of the HR planner.


    Recruitment is the process of searching for prospective employees and stimulating them toapply for job in an organization.

    In corporate world we have two kind of recruitment

    Internal External

    Recruitment Recruitment

    First any organization search for a suitable person for its requirement internally, sopeople say it is been ethical towards the employee, they would get good changes of theirpromotion if the company opts internal recruitment.


    But as we know, now the world demands highly skilled and talented people. So supposeif the internal sources are not as skilled as required, the company should hunt for suitablecandidates outside, if the company recruits internal candidates, even though they are notsuitable to the job requirement. It would be unethical.

    Though people say that an organization is more ethical if it goes for internalrecruitment and further provides training and development to the employees, if required.But how far is it ethical to make compromises as far as skill and talent concern?

    In any organization so many selection devices have been used like interviews writtentests, performance simulation tests etc. There are also some practical ethical questionsarise like.

    (a) Sometimes the organizations select unsuitable employees due to pressure fromtop level, some internal politics etc. If it happens in selection process, it directlyleads towards inefficiency and then has impact on organization growth andproductivity.

    (b) Selection of a candidate as he/she suits the job is ethical but when people makesome adjustment in job specification according to the suitability of the candidatejust because of any corrupt activity, it is called as unethical !

    (c) The practice of taking more employee than the need is also a common unethicalpractice in selection procedure.


    Competent employees dont remain competent forever competency, skills deteriorate andcan become obsolete.

    So organizations spend a good amount on training and development.Training is an organized procedure by which people learn knowledge/skill for a definite

    purpose. It can be basic literacy, technical, interpersonal and problem solving. It improvesthe skills and increases employees self-efficacy.

    Some unethical practices make training sometimes ineffective like When trainers are less qualified and less interested in providing training. Trainees have been selected not as per needs, but based in favoritism and nepotism. Trainees do not take training programme as seriously as they should. Making the training program less interesting.


    Career planning and development of employees are the responsibility of employee as wellas the management. Though, it is increasingly being done by individual employee ratherthan by the management. As far as organizations responsibilities concern the managersshould create growth opportunities, offer financial assistance, communicate organizationsgoal and future strategies etc.

    From employee side they should be aware of themselves, manage the reputation,build and maintain network contacts and keep the options open.


    So from any side whosoever is shrinking their responsibilities towards themselves ortowards other party is deemed as unethical.


    Performance evolution is needed for so many purposes compensation, performance feedback,training promotion and Research etc.

    The main objective of performance evaluation is to access accurately an individualsperformance contribution as a basis for making reward allocation decisions. As it is alwaysbeneficial to the organization as well as to the employee but sometimes people do not takeperformance evaluation, as it should be. They conduct some activities related with evaluationjust for formality. This happens mostly in public sector undertakings where people arevery rigid for change, not give much importance for self-development as well asorganizations development.


    It is also a very important part of any companys human resource practices. The wagespolicies before 1991 were based on socialistic patterns like

    Minimization of the gap between the highest and the lowest wage, payment of equalways to all the employees doing the same job irrespective of their job performance, reductionin wage/salary inequalities. But a no. of questions arise regarding the wage and salaryadministrations ethical issues.

    Some queries are like Is it fair to give equal payment to the employees one whodoes the least and other who makes the highest contribution to the job?

    How for it is ethical to give bonus the rate of 8.33% of the annual basic pay of theemployee if company is under losses?

    Though, in this 21st Century there are some industries which have already startedpaying, the employees, based on their contribution and very soon this concept would beimplemented in other industries in the 21st century.


    Layoff is a kind of practice which means discharging the unneeded workers temporarily.Now a days organizations in every segment of business industry, govt. or education aredownsizing. Is it ethical? Its difficult to answer, but in any case we can say that it is notnecessarily desperate move on the part of failing and non- profit making company.


    As we have seen ethics is involved in each and every corner of HRM. Thus here in thefollowing section some guidelines have been provided to HR professional by which theywould be able to handle it in much better ways.


    (A) Ethical LeadershipHuman resource professional should exhibit individual leadership as a role model formaintaining the highest standard of ethical conduct. The intention behind ethical leadershipis like

    To earn individual respect. To earn our credibility with those whom we serve. To set example and standard for others.

    Some guidelines have been developed for the HR managers which would help themto exhibit Ethical leadership

    1. be ethical and act ethically in every sphere of professional interaction.2. To check out individual and group actions regarding the ethical decisions are

    implemented in an ethical manner.3. To for expert opinion and guidance if any doubt about the ethicality of any

    situation.4. Generate more ethical leaders in organization by teaching and monitoring.

    (B) Professional ResponsibilityIn todays scenario the important responsibility of HR professional is to add value to theorganization which they serve and contribute to the ethical success of the organization.The purposes and aims behind developing professional responsibility are

    To influence workplace and recruitment practices To assist the organizations in achieving their objectives and goals. To encourage professional decision making and responsibility. To build up credibility, respect and strategic importance for HR profession internal

    as well as external.GuidelinesSome guidelines which make HR professional to discharge there professional

    responsibility 1. Strive to achieve the highest levels of service, performance. and social

    responsibility.2. Achieve and maintain the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior.3. Practicing the appropriate use and appreciation of human beings as employees.4. Comply with the law.5. Consistency of work with the value of the profession should be maintained.6. To influence decision making and results, advocate open debate well within the

    established forums.

    (C) Fairness and JusticeThe care ethical responsibility of HR professional is to promote and faster fairness andjustice for all employees and their organizations. The basic intention behind that is tocreate and sustain an environment that encourages all individuals and the organizationto reach their fullest potential in a positive and productive manner.


    Guidelines1. Treat people with respect, dignity and compassion to develop an environment

    which would be free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination.2. Plan, develop, manage and advocate policies and procedure that foster fair

    consistent and equal treatment to all.3. The organizations decision legal and ethical irrespective of personal interests

    must be supported.4. Each individual has some uniqueness and intrinsic worth, so respect for it.5. An inclusive approach in the organization should be followed which ensure that

    each and every one in the organization has an opportunity to develop the skills6. If the organization deals in international businesses then sound management

    practices with full of responsibilities should be shown.

    (D) Professional DevelopmentAs professional development is a non-ending continuous process. The professionals muststrive to meet the highest standards of competence and commit to strong them thecompetencies. The basic purposes behind the development are

    (a) To broaden the understanding of how organization carry out the work.(b) To expand and advance the knowledge about HRM to better understand how

    the organization function.GuidelinesSome guidelines for HR professionals for their professional development:1. Commitment for continuous learning and skill development.2. Try to pursue formal academic opportunities.3. Contribute to the evolution of the profession and the growth of individuals through

    research and development teaching.

    (E) Conflicts of InterestThe HR professionals must maintain a high level of trust with their stake hol...