An ethical dilemma is when a person faces a complex situation where a decision must be made on the immediate action to take (White, 2013). In a perfect world, Companies’ employees would do things rightfully. However, there are common occurrences in workplaces present in the real world which present themselves as ethical dilemmas. When a person is obliged to strike a balance between a good and a bad act, an ethical dilemma is presented (Trevino & Nelson, 2016). Employees are always obliged to work towards improving their performance and meet a firm’s objectives while dealing with their own decisions to adopt a possible solution to them.
The dilemma presents the fact that one would be doing something right and wrong simultaneously, and taking one right course negates the other right course (White, 2013). In this case, Brian is faced with a serious ethical dilemma on whether to follow the company's rules or his manager's directives. His manager, Sarah, requires him to work on extra hours and not record the extra time worked or even seek reimbursement for the same. During his introductory course, Brian was authorized, as a company policy and rule, to record the time worked and activities completed for proper budget compilation and rightful compensation. Therefore, failure to record the actual time worked makes him be in non-compliance with company policy. On the other hand, if he records the time, he will be going against his manager's orders, which he is supposed to obey.
When a person is presented with a situation requiring them to choose possible solutions that may either be right or wrong, the situation becomes an ethical problem (Hiekkataipale, 2017). They usually occur where a person or an organization needs personal gains forcing others to work unethically to ensure their goals are met. In this case, the company's interest is for Brian to record the time he works and activities that he completes each day. However, Sarah, his manager, has a personal goal of bringing her assignment in on budget and time. It causes her to force her subordinates to work extra unrecorded hours with no compensation to ensure her goal is met. Business goals versus personal goals in a company may also result in ethical conflicts (Trevino & Nelson, 2016). Brian is required to decide which action is right; to record the time as per company goal or fail to do it as directed by his manager. Therefore, Brian is faced with a big ethical problem of deciding on what is the moral action to take concerning the situation at hand.
Facts of the Problem
There is a failure of compliance with the company's rules and policies by the stakeholders involved. However, different parties involved have different views of the facts of the situation. Driven with the fear of consequences of actions a person may take about the issue at hand, every party fails to express their views openly to another (Weiss, 2014).
Brian, as a stakeholder, feels that failure to record the full amount of time he takes at work will not comply with the firm's policies. He also feels that he will be disobeying his manager’s directions and expectations if he records the time.
Sarah, the manager, fears that Brian’s failure to work for the extra hours will fail her goals and cause problems for the entire assignment. On the other hand, charging the extra hours will make the budget exceed, incurring additional costs, which would be a bad report. The result would be reporting Brian as an undisciplined person and a poor team player.
Anna, a fellow accountant with Brian, feels that Brian’s failure to work the extra hours will increase her work to cover Brian’s unworked extra hours. She also fears that Sarah's non-compliance with the company's policies will be revealed if Brian decides to report the matter to their partners. The result will create a bad situation for everyone in their department.
It is clear that Sarah is not complying with the firm's policies by forcing employees to work on unrecorded overtime. It is beneficial to her since her goals will be met and probably those of the entire firm regarding proper budgeting and estimated costs. However, the action may negatively impact the employees’ health due to overworking, which may ultimately impact the quality of their services (Weiss, 2014). It also does not imply better organizational practice by having employees work contrary to their job contracts.
The internal directives from partners require workers to record their activities, and time worked. However, Sarah’s directive for her subordinates to have unrecorded and uncompensated working extra hours is deprivation from the initial work directives. Additionally, it's a legal requirement for employees to be compensated for extra hours worked, which should be included in the employment contract (Weiss, 2014). The staff's morale is improved when they are allowed to work following their employment contract provisions.
Both human and financial resources are impacted by any decision made regarding the situation. It is evident that if workers are paid for the extra time worked, overall costs will be affected. On the other hand, having the employees work for uncompensated overtime impacts their morale and service delivery over time (Weiss, 2014).
Repeat Back, Clarify, and ask Questions
It involves telling the manager what one thinks the request is to ensure complete clarity (White, 2013). Brian has the alternative of first going to Sarah, the manager, to clarify the issue. Understand why he needs to work on unrecorded and uncompensated overtime. He also needs to ask questions regarding the motivation behind the overtime issue. He may also request to understand why the overtime issue was not provided in the employment contract introduced to him.
This alternative's possible result may be a newfound perspective, which may make the manager rethink their request (White, 2013). Asking questions not only presents the fact that Brian had made measured and informed decisions, but can also create an avenue for a more transparent dialogue.
Focus on the Manager’s Best Interest
It involves deciding to comply with the manager's directives; however, much they seem unethical (White, 2013). Brian can decide to work for the extra hours as directed by Sarah if he fails in convincing her to change the idea. It may be time for him to consider how bad it would look to let out his manager’s actions.
The possible result of this alternative will be that Brian will have his hands stay clean while portraying loyalty when he points out the disadvantages that this unethical action will have on his manager’s career (White, 2013).
Suggest an Alternative
After telling Sarah, his manager, that he is uncomfortable with the situation since it doesn't comply with its policies and goals, Brian could provide an alternate solution to the situation. He could probably propose to the manager to have the idea of overtime presented to the partners to review its relevance and maybe make significant policies to its effect (White, 2013). The action will ensure that they all work in compliance with company’s policies.
The possible result of this alternative may make Brian look like a hero to the company; however, much it is not always a possible thing to challenge what a manager does. It may also create an avenue for even other employees to enjoy having the policy improved (White, 2013).
If the situation is not resolved by clarification, Brian will need to determine the next party inform (White, 2013). Probably this would be their partners who are bosses to his manager. However, he must consider the risks before escalating the matter to this level. Informing their partners will make the manager's profession at risk since people will know that they don't comply with the firm’s policies and goals. It would also create a problem for all her subordinates, who had been complying with her unethical directives.
The possible result of this alternative is that the action may pose risks to Brian’s professional and personal life, especially if the partners support the manager's idea of overtime, where it meets the entire company's goals (White, 2013). However, if partners support Brian’s idea, the manager's profession and other workmates will be at risk due to failure to comply with the company's rules.
Leave, if Necessary
If all else fails, it may be time for Brian to find another job. He may first try the firm’s refusal to resolve the action with his leave ultimatum and leave if they still fail to solve it (White, 2013).
This alternative's possible result is an economic burden on Brian’s career life in the short-run (White, 2013). However, in the long run, Brian may not want to stay in a position where he is asked to violate his morals or where success requires unethical behavior.
The best alternative for Brian to take is to suggest a different way of dealing with overtime. Having the present manager overtime for discussion and evaluation by their partners would create an avenue for all employees to benefit from the idea (White, 2013). For example, the partners may agree to include the overtime issue in their work policy and have estimated compensations. On the other hand, they may opt to go away with the issue of overtime buy employing other staff to help in the department hence reducing work overload that forces the employees to work extra hours. The option is the best because if either of the solutions is employed, all-inclusive of the manager will benefit since she will not do things in non-compliance to the firm's rules (Trevino & Nelson, 2016). At the same time, the employees will work for the rightful hours and comply with the company's policies. Brian will also look like a hero by helping in airing their grievances to the manager and giving an alternative solution to their existing ethical problem.
Hiekkataipale, M. M. (2017). Ethical solutions to ethical problems in knowledge work. Navigating Through Changing Times: Knowledge Work in Complex Environments. https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/166098/Parallel%20published_AM_Hiekkataipale_2018.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
Trevino, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2016). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right. John Wiley & Sons. http://18.104.22.168:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/222/1/managing_business_ethics__straight_talk_about_how_to_do_it_right.pdf
Weiss, J. W. (2014). Business ethics: A stakeholder and issues management approach. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. http://dln.jaipuria.ac.in:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/3246/1/Business%20Ethics%20by%20Joseph%20W.%20Weiss.pdf
White, T. I. (2013). Resolving an ethical dilemma. Retrieved from: bourbon. USC. edu7engr102-p09/ethics. pdf, Accessed, 18. https://files.transtutors.com/cdn/uploadassignments/1769325_2_resolving.pdf
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