An ethical dilemma that is consistently experienced by employees in the workplace involves conflicting workplace beliefs between employees and their direct supervisors. This is a particularly difficult dilemma as it involves employees reporting directly to their supervisor on a daily basis and submitting work through them for approval by the senior managers of a specified company (Ceplenski, 2013). The dilemma focuses specifically on a supervisor using inappropriate language in the workplace and having a complacent attitude towards submitting an employee’s work to the senior managers of the company. Every time an employee would submit work to the supervisor, they would delay it and pursue other activities, which are believed to be detrimental to the organization such as recreational leave or irrelevant activities in the workplace (Fallon, 2013).
For example, an employee would often submit work to the supervisor and find them socializing with others and not providing the employee with any level of respect or attention for their respective work requirements. Often their language would be belittling and in violation of workplace standards of ethics and behavior. The crux of the dilemma was the appropriate action to pursue by the employee to alleviate these issues concerning the supervisor and to allow adequate progression at the company. It is acknowledged that continual complacency on the part of the supervisor would disadvantage the employee’s work ethic and prevent them from being considered for prospective employment promotions and also bonuses. The supervisor is regarded as a cog in an otherwise efficient company process (Ceplenski, 2013).
Consequently, there are a number of solutions to this ethical dilemma that can be carried out by the respective employee and are in accordance with standard workplace ethics and practices.
The first solution would involve the employee directly approaching the supervisor and raising concerns over their failure to submit work on time and their inappropriate behaviors. The employee has every right to address the issue at the lowest level and attempt to rectify any ramifications associated with the issue. Additionally, since the issue relates to displays of unethical behavior in the workplace, it is a requirement that the employee address it immediately to prevent further damage to the reputation of the company and the supervisor (Fallon, 2013). Positive outcomes of this solution involve the supervisor being made aware that their behavior is unacceptable and that there is a requirement to adhere to workplace policies on ethics and behaviors.
Furthermore, the supervisor made immediately apologize for their behavior and make a concerted effort to adhere to workplace policies on ethics. The supervisor may also improve their responsiveness to the needs and work requirements of the particular employee and also others if their detrimental impacts have been widespread throughout the specific organization (Fallon, 2013). Negative outcomes of this solution focus on the supervisor refusing to change their respective behaviors and claiming that they are ethical and in accordance with standard company guidelines on ethics and workplace behaviors. The supervisor may also report the employee to their manager or take note of this complaint for future reference. Their behaviors may also become more agitated in retaliation (Ceplenski, 2013).
The second solution would involve the employee reporting the supervisor’s behaviors to another employee or manager in a position above the supervisor. By skipping the supervisor’s level in the reporting process, senior management can be left to more effectively deal with the situation. The positive outcomes of this solution involve senior management cautioning the member and reinforcing ethical practices and guidelines. This may dramatically change the supervisor’s behaviors and lead to improved workplace conditions. This solution could also result in the removal of the employee. Negative outcomes focus on management ignoring the issue or addressing the employee who initially raised it to their attention (Ceplenski, 2013).
The third and final solution involves the employee ignoring the supervisor and submitting work to their manager instead. It also focuses on the employee turning a blind eye to the supervisor’s inappropriate behavior in order to avoid further ramifications should they choose to report the particular individual. It is effective as over time, the supervisor may naturally adjust their respective behaviors and attitudes or another employee may report their behaviors and be liable for any negative outcomes of this action. Additionally, significant conflict is avoided in the workplace as a result of this proposed solution and the employee can be assured that their position is relatively safe and will not be reviewed as a result of a complaint. The negative outcomes of this solution focus on the continuation of these negative behaviors by the supervisor or the employee being disciplined for not reporting their behavior in the first place (Fallon, 2013).
The most appropriate resolution with respect to the ethical dilemma being presented is the first option. It allows the employee to directly deal with the situation and trusting that senior management will respect the ethical requirements of the company. This solution will firstly make the supervisor aware of their behaviors and give them time to readjust their attitude or reconsider their respective management and leadership style. It provides the supervisor with an appropriate opportunity to change their workplace ideals prior to being cautioned or reminded by more senior staff. It also respects the hierarchal structure of many organizations particular those that involve employees reporting to their respective supervisors (Fallon, 2013). If this solution does not alter the attitude and behaviors of the supervisor or of management then it can be reasonably assumed that perhaps the organization is not the right fit for the particular employee. It is predicted that this solution will be effective in resolving the issue and also addressing a major ethical flaw in many companies worldwide.
- Ceplenski, C. (2013). Ethical Dilemmas in the Workplace: Why Do Some Organizations
Stumble? HR Daily Advisor – HR Policies and Procedures, Retrieved from
http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2013/07/30/ethical-dilemmas-in-the-workplace-why- do-some-organizations-stumble/# Accessed on 23 July 2015.
- Fallon, N. (2013). Workplace Ethics: Which Ethical (Or Unethical) Type are You?
Business News Daily, Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5608- workplace-ethics.html Accessed on 23 July 2015.