John is a loyal employee and has been working at the same firm for many years, since the current manager was a child but a year ago John’s son and wife died in an accident, which led to John being depress. He turn up for work late, sometimes drunk and often absent. He has been repeatedly warned but his behaviour hasn’t change. The manager decides to keep him on the job; did he do the right thing?
It can be acknowledge that business ethics is the process or the study of standard and principles that guide the expected behaviour in the business world. Although businesses must make a profit to ensure survival, efforts must be made in order to balance the aspiration for profit against the desires and needs of society. (Ferell 2002).
Ethical decision-making is the process by which one makes choices about ethical issues, based on a set of standards that separate right from wrong. It reflects an understanding of the principles inherent in ethics, and the various philosophical approaches to ethical decision-making. Ethical decision-making also requires a systematic framework for tackling difficult and often controversial moral questions, as mention in the case study on whether Michael has done the right thing by keeping John on the job.
With the business world changing all the time, a large variety of stakeholders may have an interest with an establishment, such as customers, shareholders, the media, government, non- government, employees and investors. Undoubtedly, they have a shifting level of authority on the growth and operation of the business. The case study illustrate 4 key stakeholder; Michael the manager, employees, family members and customers. It is vital that every stakeholder is taken into account before a decision is made. As mention by Freeman (1984) a stakeholder of an organisation is people who can influence or is impinge on by the achievement of the business objectives’. For instance to sack John, will it help his family? Will it help other employees? Will it benefit the business? All these questions must be taken in account before sacking John.
A factor that determines a decision is based on how pertinent or important the case is, or the intensity of the issue. The importance of issues varies from time to time, and is influenced by one’s values and beliefs. Individuals and their values is one of the greatest challenges faced as it relates to organizational ethics. Individual factors are important in evaluating and resolving ethical issues. Conflicts between co-workers usually arise in the workplace and decisions that are made are based on their beliefs and moral philosophies. Ethical issues importance reflects an individual’s feelings, thereby activating the ethical decision-making process. The management can influence an ethical decision through rewards or punishments. Employees should train workers on how to handle ethical issues which is a step in developing the employees’ ability to make decisions which will also enhance organizational ethics.
Without a doubt, the decision to dismiss John will have a major impact on him. This is due to the fact that he is unskilled. Getting back to employment will be difficult as all businesses will look for someone who has skilled. In addition it will be hard to get back into employment due to the fact that businesses may ask him why he left his previous job and to say “I got the sack” will not please to the employee.
However taking into account that John has been a loyal employee to the business since Michael was child, and the business was run by his grandfather. So to dismiss John may not please the grandfather, due to the fact of the length of service John have given to the company. On the other hand is the decision of keeping John affecting other employees at the same time? For instance it is said in the case study that John frequently showed up for work late and sometime not at all, meaning that other employees may need to cover his shift or duties. This may indeed have an effect on the service of the company to deliver high quality goods, which may lead to the loss of customers. We must also take into account that employees covering for John may not be trained to do that particular duty, which could lead to employees being less motivated and this again could have an effect on the service.
Adherents to the theory of right, which is derived from Deontology, believe that human beings have certain moral rights just by virtue of being human, and that, as such; everyone should be entitled to realize/exercise these rights. Some of these rights (such as the right to life, the right to be left alone) are universal across all human cultures, while others (such as the right to education) may depend on the individual’s situation relative to those around them. In general, the more absolute rights, the negative rights are viewed as necessary for human dignity, and can be appreciated/respected by all individuals. The positive rights, those which relate to minimum standards of well-being, are probably less relevant to individuals. These rights, however, are very dependent on the ethics of government and corporate entities, which are empowered to uphold such rights. Generally, the key to being ethical under this approach is to behave in a way that respects the human dignity of other people. This is achieved by honouring or protecting the legitimate moral rights of others. Michael’s shows that he care for John and take into consideration of his personal problem (the fact that he lost his son and wife in an accident) by keeping him on the job, even though it might not be the preeminent resolution for the business in the long term.
On the other hand under a utilitarian approach, the ethical act will always be the one that will produce the greatest benefits and the least harm, the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number. Egoism, by contrast, suggests that an ethically permissible act is one that is good for the individual, and results in the least harm to him. Altruism, on the other hand, supports an act that is good for all and may result in some harm to the individual. We can take into account that due to the fact the economy is taken place, cutting unnecessary cost will be a tremendous idea. To sack John and save all the money from his salary can keep the business away from making a lost. In addition it may be cheaper to hire a new candidate for the job and pay him less to what the business used to pay John due to the fact the his service level is low. This may also ease the pressure of employees to cover for John, knowing that the person who replaces John will turn up to do his/her job. But by dismissing job this can also affect the workforce because they might be worried about job security.
Taking both theories into account we can see that they differ to a great extent or in other word contradict with each other. The theory of right focus on the individual however the utilitarian approach tends to focus on the business’s benefits. We can argue that John is a human being and every human deserve a second chance however at the end of the day, the business matters must go on, as Milton Freeman argue “a business is there to maximise its profit for shareholders only”. But personally I completely disagree with Milton Freeman argument as I believe every human being needs to be looked after by its business for their personal well-being and in return the employee is expected to give his one hundred percent work rate back.
To conclude whether the correct decision was made by Michael to keep his John on as an employee at his firm cannot be justified. The reason for this is that we cannot predict the future. John may overcome his personal issues and work towards his best again, like he has over the years at the company. However if he does not improve it will be a huge loss for the company taking into account that the economic recession is currently happening. As we know it is vitally important for the business to deliver high quality goods in order to survive and with employee like John not turning up, can prove to be decisive as they may not deliver high quality goods to its customers.
Placing myself in a spot to how I would proceed in this particular situation, would be a way where the business and the member of staff will be profited. The primary step is have a conversation with John and ask him whether he required a personal leave where he will get time off to get his life back on track again. The second option which I can offer John is to hire a personal consultant for him where he can get the best help to aid him overcome his personal matters. With some time off and counselling service, this without a doubt will definitely help John to gain a fresh start when we return to work. But this all depends on the characteristics of John whether he have a strong will power or not.
The last matter which I will look into without a doubt is the dismissal of an employee especially if he has been loyal to the company for some many years. Dismissal can be frightful to any employees, but especially to John because as we know he is going through a very important phrase in his life. The main reason I will avoid the sacking of John is due to the fact that dismissal can lead to suicides. This is due to the fact that the employee can face severe pressure of finding a new job and with no regular income; this will mean that the employee will fail to keep up with loan repayment or mortgages.