The Role of Formal Ethics for HR Professional

There is a story of someone who has already been in HR career for 24 years. During that time, he have witnessed some practice, of which some executive management teams were willing to go on business objectives that were not having any relation whatsoever with the whole interest of the company or organization. Later, he is not surprised by this fact, as there are many HR professional fallen to such trend; a trend which is surely not productive. HR program becomes effective only when it is functioned maximally as the guard of organization culture. This article would like to discuss the role of formal ethics in any organization. Let us start with some general thought on organizational ethics.

Nurturing a compliant and high ethical culture, as well as providing a touchstone or our company, becomes important. A formula goes this way: effective HR Program and ethics are inseparable. The former is a foundation of impartiality, objectivity, and credibility, with which a company makes a series of evaluation on achievement and goals, which have been prearranged. Simply put, without ethics, HR will be fallen into a biased arbiter and its status will be stopped as an extension of management. While in fact HR plays crucial role in any organization, due to its function as part of the analysis of the progress of a company, HR management activities focused on maximizing the business work in helping to realize the existence of the organization/company into a competitive entity.

There is one and only key for HR program to be run in effective way, and it comes from formal ethics. The basis of organizational culture is ethics, which in essence more influential in determining the desired outcome. Within ethics, there is main issue which takes focus on several concerns in the business community. These were including:

  • Misleading the media or the public
  • Dishonesty with customers
  • Conflict of interest
  • Lying on records or falsifying reports
  • Exorbitant executive compensation
  • And improper accounting practices

These ethical concerns should be put into top priority, means that the list can be used as a reference, from which an organization should be able can learn to avoid any unethical behavior. Structure of HR management within company or organization must be filled with people who are highly trained and also people who capable of employing transparent communication. Let’s put it in simple tone, that our personal interest should not be put beyond the interest of company/organization. Serving the company in the opposite way will only undermine the ethical standards and organization’s culture. If someone (who is in charge on company’s management) put his personal interest beyond the general interest of organization, then it will affect the effectiveness and reputation or HR function; and if such habit goes repeatedly, then the desired outcomes couldn’t be achieved.

Some Causes

Unethical behavior can be minimized if the control and monitoring functions are run well. Supervision and control that is well run can prevent some of the main causes of unethical behavior. You might be asking: what are the main causes of unethical behavior? Several points need to be mentioned below:

  • Tolerates a particular approach like High Machiavellian (authority is run by an authoritarian manner).
  • Set some unrealistic goals, deadlines, and outcomes; and then forces workers and staffs to achieve them.
  • Designing unrealistic business and/or financial objectives.
  • Perquisites and money are highly valued.
  • Put “teamwork” in lowest position.
  • “Yes man” culture.
  • Weak control over some aspects like business or financial objectives.

If people who works behind HR Management had set an environment in which these causes could make their living, then it will absolutely forces good staffs, good people to do unethical behavior. Up until that point, no matter how much the capital your company has, it will be less affecting the desired outcomes. And sure such ethic is meaningless if you cannot make an environment in which channel of communication is nearly transparent and the structure is controlled in good manner. Structure, which is the result of objectification, plays important role in every organization. A question, then, might be asking by those who curious about how to promote ethical behavior.

HR professional becomes the ethical and cultural stewards, so they need to behave with a compass that able to direct them in acting morally. In addition to that, HR professionals need to be a visible role model, and having the courage to act in good manner. Next thing, HR professionals need to provide ethical training, and try to communicate ethical expectations. They also need to give punishment (if there is unethical act detected) or reward (if the staff has successfully achieved the goal of organization). Last but not least, HR professional should assess stakeholders’ and employees’ opinion in exact period, regarding the ethical performance of organization.

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