Moral choices facing employees
When employees sign a contract with a compamy, they are agreeing to perform certain tasks in exchange for a finacial reward. It is possible that employees are obligated to do their jobs only to get paychecks, but do they have an obligation to help the company past what they are legally responsible to do? What if their company’s interests conflict with their own? Should an employee speak out on immoral decision made by the company? Theses are just a few of the questions that an employee may have to consider while working for a company.
Employees face tough moral choices including company loyalty, conflicts of interest, bribes, and whistle blowing. An employee has a legal obligation to the firm through his contract, but how loyal he is outside of legality is his choice. He can choose whether he wants to be completely loyal, not loyal at all, or if he will have a balance with his employer. Obedience loyalty, an extreme, is where an employee believes that he is worthless and his company is the only thing that matters. While this is a rarity, it is still present throughout some professional fields, such as the military.
Moral choices facing employees Essay Example
Obedience-loyal employees would put their lives in danger for their company and give up any personal life to do their job. A good example of this was April Leatherwood, a Memphis policewoman who went undercover for an entire year, putting family, friends, and her own hygiene behind her (Brusseau). Most employees do not display this type of loyalty but would rather have a balance between themselves and the company. Balanced loyalty occurs when an employee might sacrifice some things for his job but not as extreme as his own wellbeing.
This is a more common form of loyalty and is displayed in more areas of work. An employee who has balanced loyalty may be asked to move for his job, might talk to his friends about how awesome his company is, or might choose political beliefs that are in the best interest of the company (Brusseau). The employee is not asked to make rash decisions (such as giving up his personal life for a whole year) but is still very loyal to the company and looks out for its best interest. Sometimes it is in one’s self interest to not be loyal to his company at all.
The third form, free agency loyalty, is at the opposite end of the spectrum. An employee who practices free agency loyalty lacks any faith to his company at all. The argument behind free agency is loyalty only exists “in a reality where individuals stand by others to some extent without conditions” (Brusseau). Usually, in a profit-making company, they only look out for what is best for maximizing profits and not necessarily employees’ interests. If an employer isn’t loyal to its employees, than why should employees be loyal to the employer?
Companies should have just as much loyalty in their employees as their employees have in them because it is the choice of the employee to stay. Even the most loyal of employees will find that their self-interests can sometimes conflict with the rules of their contract and the company. The problem may be as small as one wanting to wear a dress shirt and khakis to work but the dress code calls for a full suit. Or the problem could be larger like an employee believing he deserves a six-figure salary while he is only earning four figures. There are conflicting interests in almost every job and it is up to the employee to decide what he should do.
Conflicts of interest can arise when “employees at any level have special or private interest that are substantial enough to interfere with their job duties” (Shaw 388). The conflicts in the workplace are usually small and only affect a few people, or can be large and affect the entire company. In his book “The Business Ethics Workshop” William H. Shaw describes one example of a financial case with Bart Erdman, the sales manager for Leisure Sports World. Since his brother-in-law is the company’s CEO, Erdman gives all of the firm’s promotional work to an outside advertising company raising advertising costs by fifteen percent.
He has allowed his choices as an employee to be affected by his own interests, affecting the company as a whole (388). Even if Erdman had decided to pass a small amount of work to his brother-in-law, a conflict still arises. He still has a personal interest in his business transactions, which could lead him to act against the interest of the company. It starts to become a problem when the employee’s decisions affect not only the company negatively, but his own interests as well.
If Bart had spent extra time and money that he didn’t have to try and get his work done, it goes against his own interest as well as the company’s. Deciding how to deal with a specific conflict can be troubling at times but an employee needs to find a balance between his company’s interest and his own. A severe conflict an employee may face is whether or not to take a bribe. According to ethicalrealism. com, a bribe is defined as “a payment made with the expectation that someone will act against their work duties” (Gray). A bribe can come from another company or from a supervisor within the company itself.
Most bribes are financial, but can come can be in the form of anything the employee may value, such as a car. Bribes can also come as the form of a kickback, which is “a percentage payment to a person able to influence or control a source of income” (Shaw 396). An employer may use a kickback when he needs the employee to complete a task quickly and uses the payment as a motivation. Morally, taking a bribe is wrong but an employee may take the bribe if its benefits outweigh his present well-being. But if he takes the bribe, could he lose his job?
What are the potential consequences that could affect him and the company as a whole? Whatever the controversy may be, an employee must look out for his best interest, the effects on his company and the legal consequences of taking a bribe. In the United States, it is illegal to receive and give bribes in the workplace. According to 18 USCS prec § 201(b), “Whoever directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official with intent to influence that person’s official act will be fined for the offence of bribery” (Federal Laws).
The punishment depends on the severity of the case but ranges from “a fine of an amount not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, or imprisonment for not more than fifteen years” (Federal Laws). A bribe may or not be worth the risks that accompany it and the employee must make the choice for himself. Many employees witness their companies’ wrongful actions and need to decide whether or not to blow the whistle. Whistle blowing is defined as, “A practice in which employees who know that their company is engaged in activities inform the public or some governmental agency of those activities” (Shaw 404).
These actions can be illegal, cause unnecessary harm, or just otherwise immoral. Depending on how serious the case is, an employee may see the public interest as more important than his own loyalty to the company. But sometimes whistle blowing is not always the right thing to do and could jeopardize the company’s welfare. That is why employees must look at the five justifications of whistle blowing before making any final decisions. The first justification states that whistle blowing must be done from an appropriate moral motive.
Searching for attention, profit, or stirring up trouble are not justifiable reasons for blowing the whistle. Second, the whistle blower must have exhausted all internal channels prior to going to the public. This means the employee has talked with all supervisors and officials within the company in attempt to fix the problem. Having compelling evidence of wrongful actions is the third justification that employees must consider. This is hard to do because success requires hard evidence, such as accounting records. The more specific evidence employees can get, the greater chance of justification.
Justification also requires that the problems are significantly wrong and the actions would be hazardous if not corrected. The final justification of whistle blowing that employees need to recognize is what the chances are they can actually remedy the problem. If going out to the public and exposing their company will not fix the problem, employees should not try to blow the whistle in the first place. Signing a contract and binding oneself to a company may seem very simple and harmless but there are many conflicts that arise.
An employee has to look out for his own self interest as well as the company’s wellfare. But if the company performs immoral actions, the employee must decide whether or not he will expose his firm, potentially losing his source of income. There may be times when a rival company presents an employee with a bribe and he must elect to take it or not. Being an employee comes with not only demanding responsibilities but problematic choices that will test one’s morals. It is up to the employee to recognize the moral choices he has in front of him and ultimately how to deal with them. Work Cited