Ethics in the workplace (utilitarian ethics)
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Ethics in the workplace (utilitarian ethics)
In the modern organization environment, ethics play a pivotal role in ensuring success and growth. Most organizations have failed due to poor ethical practices by employees and executives. Different studies have been done to come up with ways of explaining of ethics and its role in the society and at the workplace. Generally, proper ethical principles revolve around making sure that the rules are observed while carrying out one`s responsibilities at the workplace and while interacting with each other which in turn result to harmony in the society and in the workplace. According to utilitarian ethics, whether or not a decision is right or wrong is determined by the consequences of such a decision. When making such a decision, an individual should go ahead to consider the effects that it will have on other people around him and not him alone. In order for such a decision to be deemed as ethical or right, it has to be right by every person around i.e. make every concerned party happy. In this research, we highlight the importance of ethics in the workplace with reference to an interview with my workplace supervisor (Mr Basco).
Mr Basco`s approach to ethics
Mr Basco insists on making sure that consumers are happy and employees are at their best. In order for this to happen, the company has set up a satisfactory remuneration strategy that keeps employees happy. Before he took over as the supervisor at the workplace, some employees used top earn below the living wage and labour turnover was very high. However, he made changes in the wage structure to make sure that each employee earns enough to sustain himself in his day to day life. In the interview, he stated that the poor wage structure was a result of poor finance management and lack of goal oriented supervisors who only cared about personal goals more than organization goals. The organization suffered from high labour turnover and poor employee performance. However, a change to a more ethical management approach stimulated by Mr Basco helped in boosting employee performance and reducing labour turnover. Therefore, it is safe to say that proper ethics in the workplace ensures that the right goals are achieved. Further on, it contributes towards individual employee satisfaction, motivation and good performance. Such employee qualities and feelings play a pivotal role in steering an organization to success (Richard, 1950).
From this, we can see that Mr Basco`s approach to ethics can be classified as utilitarian ethics. This is because he focuses on making the people around him and in the workplace happy. By choosing not to pursue the previous management techniques practiced at the organization, Mr Basco ensured that the outcomes of his actions brings about happiness within his staff. By ensuring that all employees receive a salary higher than the living wage, Mr Basco ensured that all employees are capable of sustaining themselves and their families. This did not only ensure happiness at the workplace but also back at home hence improving the social life of employees and their families (Harsanyi, 1977). Mr Basco had a number of options to pursue at his position and we as employees had very little that we could do to make his option more favourable. Therefore, choosing to make sure that all his employees are happy was more of a personal decision based on his ethical and management principles (McCloskey, 1957). Other organizations should consider adopting such structures. Other than looking at academic qualifications alone, it is crucial to have an employment procedure that analyses personal ethical standards. Such scrutiny goes a long a way in making sure that companies secure ethically upright employees and leaders.
Apart from insisting on the importance of proper remuneration, Mr Basco stated that it is crucial to ensure proper relationship between an employee and his workmates and between and employee and those above him rank wise. In order to ensure that there is no intimidation and fear among employees. Mr Basco ensured that there is a proper reporting structure within the organization. All employees are expected to report any action that goes against the organization`s code of conduct. Initially, doing this was difficult because the management did not take the concept of ethics seriously and reporting channels within the organizations did not favour whistle-blowers. This intimated most employees and perpetuated poor performance and lack of cohesion at the workplace. However, the changes brought about by Mr Basco ensured that employees are free and they can do their work without any hindrance brought about by unethical actions at the workplace. Such an atmosphere goes a long way in boosting employee morale and fostering a good relationship between employees and the management. Such a relationship increases the chances for success because employees can approach top management with ideas and innovation breakthroughs without fear.
According to Bethan`s principle of utility, one has to recognize the presence of pain and pleasure in human life. An action is deemed as right or wrong by the level of pain and pleasure it brings into another person`s life. Wrong actions are those that bring about pain while right actions are those that bring pleasure. Looking at Mr Basco supervision techniques and ideologies, it is safe to say that he takes a utilitarian approach towards ethics (Urmson, 1953). First, he recognizes the dilemma that employees at the organization are facing and comes up with a way to counter the problem. The fear and intimidation that employees faced can be categorized as pain while the freedom and happiness that they felt after the changes can be classified as pleasure (Hooker, 2002). Therefore, MR Basco`s actions can be classified as right under utilitarian ethics. Basco`s ethical actions can also be classified as `pure` because they ensure complete pleasure and no pain that follows after. This is because he does not stop at ensuring proper remuneration by elimination financial irregularities in the organization but goes ahead to ensure that employees have a conducive working environment always.
Upholding the highest ethical standards at the workplace is crucial for organization success. From this study, we learn that the management is responsible for setting ethical standards. If top level employees do not maintain the required ethical standards then the organization is likely to fail because it affects the performance and motivation of other employees. Mr Basco changed the way the organization was managed by putting into consideration a lot of factors including the people around him. Most changes that he brought about in the organization were ethical based and ended up having a positive effect on performance, motivation and organization success. Decisions made by Mr Basco ensured happiness of other employees hence categorizing his actions as ethically right. Such actions emphasize the importance of championing for high ethical standards at organizational level. Proper ethics ensure efficiency and success at all organization levels.
Harsanyi, C. (1977). “Motive Utilitarianism”. Morality and the theory of rational behaviour, Social Research 44 (3).
McCloskey, H.J. (1957). “An Examination of Restricted Utilitarianism”. The Philosophical Review 66 (4).
Urmson, J.O. (1953)`The Interpretation of the Moral Philosophy of J.S.Mill` in The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol III (1953), pp.33-39
Richard H. (1950) A Note on the `Proof` of Utility in J. S. Mill, Ethics, Vol. 61, No. 1 (Oct., 1950), pp. 66-68
Hooker, B. (2002). Ideal Code, Real World: A Rule-Consequentialist Theory of Morality. Clarendon Press

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