How Human Resource Managers should Manage Ethical Issues and Ensure Compliance ?

Organizations function according to some norms and values as well as have characteristic organizational culture that is the product of the above elements. Compliance with ethical norms is an integral aspect of every employee’s work and organizations strive to ensure that policies are being followed, no norms are being violated, and above all, employees stick to the rules and regulations governing their employment.

Indeed, given the proliferation of business scandals arising from unethical conduct and unacceptable behaviour, organizations are even more keen to ensure that such instances of bad behaviour that have the potential to destroy their reputations, as well as cause monetary losses, and also lead to punitive actions by the authorities do not happen.

In this context, organizations typically entrust the Human Resource Function with educating the employees about the ethical norms and rules and regulations. They also task the HR Managers with ensuring compliance, punishing violations, enforcing the codes of conduct, as well as keeping an eye on potential break of rules and regulations. Thus, the HR Managers have a pivotal role to play in the overall organizational ecosystem as far as ethics and values are concerned.

Let us now turn to the specific ways in which the HR Managers function to fulfil their responsibilities and mandates. Ethics starts from the time the potential employees apply to the organizations as there can be cases where aspirants “fudge” their resumes as well as hide instances of past violations in other companies.

Indeed, in some countries, there are laws and rules and regulations which empower organizations to report such violations not only to the management of their companies but record them in a centralized database accessed by all firms that have signed up for the service so that potential cheats can be marked and tagged which would help the entire industry.

Indeed, the pre-selection phase is very important as given the fact that Millions of graduates aspire to be absorbed into the industry; it is indeed the case that the “Weeding Out” of “ Bad Apples” is done as early and as soon as possible.

Even during the selection phase, the HR Managers must be on the lookout for possible misrepresentations of data, wrong information pertaining to the aspirants’ education or previous employment history in addition to the “gaming the system” aspect which in layman’s words means aspirants collude with each other and with “insiders” in the organizations so that they are selected through dubious means.

Next, the primary task of the HR Manager begins when the employees are on-boarded, or the phase where the selection is made and the employees join the organization and are in the training phase. Indeed, this is the most critical phase as far as the education of the fresh and the new employees regarding the organizational policies are concerned.

To take examples, the new recruits must be given the Codes of Conduct and clearly told that any violations, would result in termination of employment or other punitive actions.

Indeed, some organizations have policies and rules that specify that even minor transgressions such as claiming inflated expenses and accepting gifts and other favours from external parties to provide benefits to them are not tolerated. This is the case with many MNCs or Multinational Corporations which take these violations very seriously.

Turning to the meat of the policies, the most frequent violation is often linked to the practice of violating the organizational policies.

Some instances of this can be recording attendance for others by swiping their identity and authentication cards in order to “mask and hide” the time that the other employee clocks in practice; the practice of using company resources for personal use when such use is explicitly prohibited, impersonating other employees; and most importantly, using the internet and external network access to transmit confidential and restricted information and data.

In recent years because of the boom in some sectors, there has been another form of violation wherein employees approach their colleagues with offers of jobs in other companies, and this is a violation that is taken very seriously in almost all firms.

Indeed, there are several firms that routinely dismiss the employees when such violations are brought to their notice. In all these cases, the HR Manager plays a vital role as it is his or her job to not only monitor such violations but also to enforce the rules and regulations as well as punish infringements of the rules.

Apart from this, another trend that has been noticed of late is the practice of cyber hacking wherein employees misuse the confidential information that is given to them as part of normal work by sending it to external parties, stealing passwords and other personal information and passing them on to dubious characters, and above all, a tendency to overuse the internet and visit prohibited sites.

Indeed, the problem is so acute that the HR Managers regularly monitor the browsing habits of employees and keep a check on whether the employees are misusing the facilities.

As can be seen from the discussion so far, there are any number of ethical violations. and we have covered some of them in this article in addition to detailing how the HR Managers can deal with such violations. As mentioned in the introductory sections, with the increase in the instances of business scandals and unethical behaviour, it has become very important for organizations to track violations and perhaps, ensure that such violations do not happen in the first place by laying down the rules and enforcing them with an Iron hand.


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Human Resource Management