Ethics in Human Resource Management

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ETHICS IN HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Ethical considerations are becoming increasingly important to HR departments in American industries. A tension often exists between a company's financial goals and strategies to improve profits, and ethical considerations with right-behavior concerns. Since human resources departments are often most focused on employees and employee behavior, it falls to them to define ethical behavior, communicate specialized ethical codes, and update or elaborate on existing right-behavior expectations. Human resource management systems are expected to communicate ethical values and so improve company performance.

In the absence of a fully separate ethics department, HR departments can struggle with this ethical burden. A 2008 study done by SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, showed that over 50 percent of employers did not make ethical considerations part of their employee evaluations. About half of employees did not think they had means to find ethical advice within their company, and even 19 percent of human resources professionals felt pressure to compromise their ethical standards, coming from multiple directions within their companies, though the HR department was the primary resource for ethical information in 80 percent of studied companies.

One of the ways the HR department can support ethics management for their company is through the maintenance of a code of ethics. Briefly, an ethical code for a business should help employees build trust with each other and their company, while clarifying any uncertain or gray areas that may exist in the company's ethical considerations. Instead of only supporting existing ethical standards, a proper code of ethics should seek to raise the standard and improve employee behavior. The code should show members of the company how to make judgment decisions and encourage such proper decision making, while at the same time providing enforcement protocols to prevent misconduct. When...
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