Because employees tend to spend so much of their weekday hours on the job, they often are tempted to conduct personal business on company time. This can include setting up doctor’s appointments on company phone lines, making vacation reservations using their employer’s computers and Internet connections or even making phone calls for a freelance side business while on company time. At first glance, this ethical dilemma is fairly clear: It is an abuse of your employer to conduct personal business on company time. But there are shades of gray here. What if your spouse calls to tell you that your children are ill? Is it OK for you to schedule a doctor’s appointment? A good rule of thumb is for an employee to check with his manager or human resources supervisors to clarify what counts as an actionable offense in the company.
Taking Credit for Others’ Work
Employees often work in teams to create marketing campaigns, develop new products or fine-tune services, yet rarely does everyone in a group contribute equally to the final product. If three members of a five-person team did all the work, do those three members demand to receive proper credit while pointing out that two members of the team did not pull their weight? This is a thorny question. If employees single out their co-workers in a negative light, it could foment resentment. The same thing could happen, however, if all employees accept equal praise even though only a select few did the real work. The best way to resolve this ethical dilemma is to not let it happen. Team members should insist that all employees perform specific tasks to help complete a project.
Employees often don’t know what to do if they see one of their co-workers harassing another employee, either mentally, sexually or physically. Employees may worry for their jobs if they attempt to report a superior for harassment. They may fret that they’ll be labeled a troublemaker if they report co-workers who display inappropriate behavior toward other employees. The best way to resolve this ethical dilemma rests with the staff members who develop the company’s employee handbook. It is their job to include specific language that spells out that employees won’t be punished for reporting the harassing behavior or inappropriate actions of their co-workers.
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