Implications of Ethical Practices in Human Resource Management:
A Strategic Perspective


Mrs. Vijit Chaturvedi
Asst. Professor
Lingaya's University

An eye towards understanding Ethics

The word ethics has gained a lot of attention and popularity since last one decade. With ever-increasing expectations, aspirations, stiff competition, conflicts and improper work life balance due to increasing demand of skilled manpower and high skill shortage there is a need to create a balance between the expectations and aspirations. The role of ethics and ethical practices and its understanding has a deeply rooted connection and presence in all of our lives. Right from schooling subject like moral science with ever remembering examples and quotes of inspiring leaders  through teachers, parents, elders have made a very strong relationship and impact on our decision making and the way of living. Ethics refers to the science of morals which guide and direct our conduct. We as human being are one entity and only feel satisfied or dissatisfied both in professional and personal front based on  the way in which how we live our life which in result depends on the norms, principles, guidelines, grounds and standards ,our judgement criterion  which decide what is right or wrong. It is these underlying and hidden principles which we do exhibit in routine in every decision of ours but cannot at times see and observe it closely or realize it which results into wrong decisions, unproductive behaviour, loss of efficiency, rising conflicts and opinions and as a result dissatisfaction or stress which may again affect a harmonious relation, growth and success.

Even in our Vedanta or Indian ethos a lot of stress is on understanding  the role of right, fair and proper applied in all possible senses that can make a human being  complete. It is so because behaviour is a set of actions and these actions are in accordance guided by these Vedic principles that we at times clearly and directly apply and at certain times as a result of reinforced practice implement. These principles actually help a leader in differentiating himself from others and help in standing tough against what is right and give the courage and intrinsic motivation to exhibit his strong character and a clear conduct for the well being of its followers or for whom he is accountable. Though there are  different sets of views regarding ethics like in Utilitarian view the emphases the fact that ethics has a direct application on business because business is for the people who live as a society and these morals structures should guide how to run a good business. Similarly the Separatist view that issues of ethics and moral principles should be of concern for the government and others and that the business should focus solely on the production, selling, distribution and aspects of running business only whereas the integrated view focuses that ethics cannot be separated from business and every business activity should be based on ethical principles.

Since in an organization the role of HR department is to think about holistic development, identification of the capabilities and providing the best as structured by the organization all those benefits and services that they deserve the HR department can help in streamlining the role of ethics with respect to the organization. The present discussion will focus on how through different practices HR department can help in getting a culture of ethical work environment in its practices and help employees realize that the learning from Vedanta which is the most enriched part of Indian culture can be applied.

Human aspects and human relations are the basis of success of any organization and we have witnessed the upward movement and the downfall of many big players because of this. Thus the role of HR department in understanding the good bad, fair or unfair all depends on the personality, attitude, perception and behaviour of the employees..These factors are affected by the culture of the organization, leadership style, facilities, and peer pressure, nature of job, emotion and behaviour pattern of people and it affects all the stakeholders' right from employees to employers, Government agencies, manpower consultants and even certain outside sources. Until and unless there is a defined mechanism about how can ethical mismanagement can affect the culture of organization itself.

There can be few practices   by way of which ethical practices can get affected

For example on the part of employer- doing false commitments to the trade union, creating rift between workers and TU, Discrimination in selection, salaries, benefits and allowances. These are common by which unethical practices if not controlled can lead to disaster. Similarly on the part of employees   providing false information or documents for age, qualification, experience. Similarly even the consultants adopt unethical practice like altering the bio data or getting the commission from the organization. Similarly the dealers, suppliers can also at times affect the ethical practices.

Similarly in different HR system there can be chances of unethical practices creeping in like in cash or incentives plan practicing l biases based on gender discrimination, reducing wages after some time giving false reason of low sales or poor financial position delay in disbursing salaries, similarly practicing favouritism, casteism, religion also adds to unethical practices. Similarly in assessment assessment biases like leniency effect or favouritism, strictness, personal prejudice or recency effect is example of unethical practice.

Likewise faulty selection, delaying promotion, frequent transfer, extending probation, not giving the parting and long term benefit like PF, Pension, Gratuity, improper manpower utilization and job delegation like overburdening task or under capacity utilization can also be a form of unethical practice. There can also be few employment related issues like frequent hiring and firing the employees without prior notice or intimation or at times like concept of reverse mentoring where the younger employees mentor the older employees may not be taken in the right spirit and also unlimited work hours can also affect the employee's efficiency. Similarly the compensation structure do not match with the talent available in the organization can also de-motivate the hidden talent.

On similar grounds privacy issues like retrieving or accessing employee's e-mails, criminal record enquiries, access to their medical records, conducting psychological tests or polygraph dates without actually understanding the relevance should be properly monitored. The type of practice or trend in the industry should be properly monitored for e.g. if the employees are witnessing all unethical practices right from giving taxes and may even complain to sales tax commissioner or IT commissioner but such Whistle blowers need to see how far their jobs will remain safe after such initiative .Similarly sexual harassment policy need to be framed and implemented and initiatives like this also helps in brand building s a strong employer brand.

Role of ethical training in understanding relevance of ethical implications

Ethical training components as suggested by Knouse Stephen can provide guidelines in this is that firstly the trainees should be provided with understanding of  ethical philosophies and judgemental heuristics which will help employees to understand the implications of business ethics and its impact on their immediate job. The second important component is that training should be industry or profession specific and the related areas of ethical concern should be emphasized. The third component is that trainees should be provided clarity on organizational expectations and rules. The fourth component is employees should be provided clarity on ethical tendencies of the employees themselves. The next component is taking a realistic view elaborating on the monkey wrenches in ethical decisions. The final important component is helping employees to practice and come back. This is an important activity because in this employees have to monitor their action and need to be consistently provided feedback by peers or co-workers so that the required change can be understood.

Thus, it can be said that ethics has a deeply rooted role in organization because ethics is not limited to a particular function or system but is a complete process where these morals and principles are required to be implemented and practiced in most religious ways. A more consistent ethical based training needs to be provided to the employees wherein the application of ethics and learning of Vedanta like fairness, equity, truthfulness, unselfish motives, good character, humanitarian principles, and freedom from lust, greed and fear of unknown because of dishonest principles or practices should be initiated. It is true that  HR department cannot alone bring in transformation in attitude, belief, personality or attitude of employees or provide inputs  on work procedures but by providing ethics based training or continuous counselling d mentoring it will help everyone  in organization to bring desired improvements can be improved or redesigned to make it function based on ethical principles, this will help in creating a culture and environment based on ethics and will help employees to strategically relate ethical practices in  workplace.


Knouse Stephen, Giacalone, "The six components of successful ethical training"

Mrs. Vijit Chaturvedi
Asst. Professor
Lingaya's University

Source: E-mail May 6, 2013


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