ETHICS IN HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Identify any ethical issues most likely to take place in the function of HRM in an organization
The term ‘organizational justice’ refers to the extent to which employees perceive workplace procedures, interactions and outcomes to be fair in nature. These perceptions can influence attitudes and behavior for good or ill, in turn having a positive or negative impact on employee performance and the organization’s success. The concept of organizational justice extends traditional models of work behaviour that tend to conceptualize job demands, job control and social support as the main factors determining ...view middle of the document...
As it can be difficult to determine what constitutes an appropriate level of reward for a particular degree of input, people tend to make this judgment in relative terms, looking for a contribution—outcome ratio that is similar to that of their peers.
The equity principle is already upheld in organizations to a large extent by standardized HR policies, such as predetermined job grades and salary bands, universal training and development opportunities, and avoidance of ‘favoritism’ in showing approval. However, there may come occasions where an employee feels there has been an unfair distribution of benefits; for example, a colleague with the same number of years’ service is promoted while the individual concerned is not. Clearly such decisions by management are likely to be based on considerations other than tenure alone, but these will not always be transparent to outside observers. The unpromoted employee may consider that his inputs were the same as his colleague’s and yet they have been rewarded differently. Consequently, they may seek to redress this perceived inequity either by reducing their subsequent efforts, or by campaigning to be recompensed to the same degree as their colleague. Either course of action is likely to be damaging — or, at best, inconvenient — to their employers.
The notion of ‘equity’ may sometimes be overruled by that of ‘equality’ (everyone receives the same) or ‘need’ (people receive according to their personal circumstances), especially when the outcome is something that cannot strictly be earned, such as medical insurance benefits. Research has shown some cross-cultural variation in the preferred basis for outcome distribution, with Americans favoring the principle of equity, Indians of need, and Dutch of equality (Storey, 2000); but as will be seen below, the final allocation of rewards may not be so intrinsically important as the process by which the allocation was decided.
Procedural justice is concerned with the fairness of the decision process leading to a particular outcome. As just noted, procedural justice can outweigh distributive justice, in that people may be willing to accept an unwanted outcome if they believe the decision process leading up to it was conducted according to organizational justice principles. For example, Greenberg (1994) found that smokers more strongly accepted a smoking ban at their workplace when they felt they had been given thorough information about the change of policy, in a socially sensitive manner (sec Internet Resources for more information on implementing a workplace smoking ban). The same principles might apply to the hypothetical promotion scenario given above. An unpromoted worker may be placated if he is convinced that the system used to decide promotions is transparent and free from bias.
People’s perceptions of procedural justice are likely to be enhanced if they are given the opportunity to present information and voice...