Unethical behaviour by employees can affect individuals, work teams and even the organization. Organizations thus depend on individuals to act ethically. The ethical issues that individuals face at work are complex.

Ethical Issues from One Week in the Wall Street Journal

Ethical Issues from One Week in the Wall Street Journal

Members of organizations are increasingly finding themselves facing ethical dilemmas, situations where they are required to define right and wrong conduct. What constitutes good ethical behaviour has never been clearly defined. And in recent years the line differentiating right from wrong has become more blurred. Employees see people all around them engaging in unethical practices. When caught these people giving excuses like "everyone does it", or "I never thought I would get caught".

Managers and their organizations are responding to this problem from a number of directions. They are writing and distributing codes of ethics to guide employees through ethical dilemmas and they are creating protection mechanisms for employees who reveal internal unethical practices.

Today's manager needs to create an ethically healthy climate for his or her employees, where they can do their work productivity and confront a minimal degree of ambiguity regarding what constitutes right and wrong behaviours.

Ways to improve Ethical behavior in ob

These are the ways to improve Ethical behaiviour

Making ethical decisions is part of each manager's job. It has been suggested by K.R. Andrews that ethical decision-making requires three qualities of individuals:

  1. The competence to identify ethical issues and evaluate the consequences of alternative courses of action.
  2. The self-confidence to seek out different opinions about the issue and decide what is right in terms of a particular situation.
  3. Tough - mindedness - the willingness to make decisions when all that needs to be known cannot be known and when the ethical issue has no established unambiguous solution.

Values and Ethics: Sometimes some people consider values and ethics synonymous and use them interchangeably. However, the two have different meanings. The major distinction between the two is that values are beliefs that affect an individual's judgemental ideas about what is good or bad. The ethics is the way the values are acted out. Ethical behaviour is acting in ways consistent with one's personal values and the commonly held values of the organization and society.

Values and Attitudes: Both values and attitudes are tinged with morale. There are some similarities and some dissimilarity between the two:

Similarities: The similarities between values and attitudes are:

  1. Both are learned or acquired from the same sources - experience with people, objects and events.
  2. Both affect cognitive process and behaviour of people.
  3. Both are endurable and difficult to change.
  4. Both influence each other and more often than not, are used interchangeably.

Work Attitudes and Job Satisfaction: Attitudes at work are important because, directly or indirectly, they affect work behaviour. Although many work attitudes are important, two attitudes in particular have been emphasized. Job satisfaction and organizational commitment are key attitudes of interest to managers.

  1. Job Satisfaction: Job satisfaction is a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or hob experiences. The most important factors conductive to job satisfaction are:
    1. Mentally Challenging Work: Employees tend to prefer job that give them opportunities to use their skills and abilities and offer a variety of tasks, freedom and feedback on how well they are doing. Under conditions of moderate challenge, most employees will experience pleasure and satisfaction.
    2. Personality-Job Fit: People with personality types congruent with their chosen vocations should find they have the right talents and abilities to meet the demands of their jobs; and because of this success, have a greater probability of achieving high satisfaction from their work. It is important, therefore to fit personality factors with job profiles.
    3. Equitable Rewards: Employees want pay systems and promotion policies that they perceive as being just, unambiguous, and in line with their expectations.
    4. When pay is seen as fair based on job demands, individual skill level, and industry pay standards, satisfaction is likely to result. Similarly, employees seek fair promotion policies and practices. Promotions provide opportunities for personal growth, more responsibilities and increased social status. Individual's who perceive that promotion decisions are made in a fair and just manner are likely to experience job satisfaction.

    5. Supportive working conditions: Employees prefer physical conditions thatare comfortable and facilitating doing a good job. Temperature, light, noise and other environmental factors should not be extreme and provide personal comfort. Further, employees prefer working relatively close to home, in clean and relatively modern facilities and with adequate tools and equipment.
    6. Supportive Colleagues: Employees have need for social interaction. Therefore, having friendly and supportive co-workers and understanding supervisor's leads to increase job satisfaction. Most employees want their immediate supervisor to understand and friendly, offers praise for good performance, listens to employees' opinions and show a personal interest in them.
  2. An individual may hold different attitudes toward various aspects of the job. For example, an employee may like his job responsibilities but be dissatisfied with the opportunities for promotion. Characteristics of individuals also affect job satisfaction. Those with high negative affectivity are more likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs.

    Are satisfied workers more productive? Or, are more productive workers more satisfied? The link between satisfaction and performance has been widely explored. Research shows weak support for both views, but not simple, direct relationship between satisfaction and performance have been found. However, we can say that satisfied workers are more likely to want to give something back to the organization because they want to reciprocate their positive experiences.

  3. Organizational Commitment: - The strength of an individual's identification with an organization is known as organizational commitment. There are two kinds of organizational commitment.
    1. Affective Commitment: Affective commitment is an employee's intention to remain in an organization because of a strong desire to do so. It consists of three factors:
      • A belief in the goals and values of the organization.
      • A willingness to put forth effort on behalf of the organization.
      • A desire to remain a member of the organization.
    2. Affective commitment encompasses loyalty, but it is also a deep concern for the organization's welfare.

    3. Continuance Commitment: Continuance commitment is an employee's tendency to remain in an organization because the person cannot afford to leave. Sometimes, employees believe that if they leave, they will lose a great deal of their investments in time, effort and benefits and that they cannot replace these investment.

Organizational commitment is related to lower rates of absenteeism, higher quality of work, and increased productivity. Managers should be concerned about affective commitment because committed individuals expend more task-related effort and are less likely than others to leave the organization.

Job satisfaction and organizational commitment are two important work attitudes that managers can strive to improve among their employees. And these two attitudes are strongly related; so increasing job satisfaction is likely to increase commitment as well.

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