HR Management Critical Thinking Paper on Ethical and Professional HRM

Ethical and Professional HRM

Apple supplier accused of ‘illegal and unethical’ staff treatment

Introduction

            Most individuals support the view that organizations and their managers should behave ethically towards employees. Those who hold this perception believe that ethical behavior towards employees, or rather dealing with employees fairly is very important as it promotes competitive advantage to the business. However, others also believe that this behavior ensures employee commitment and improves their performance. Business minded lawyers or conservatives also agree that managers should be fair to employees simply because it is good for business.  The success of any business is rooted to its employees, suppliers and customers. Therefore, any business that is unjust to these three stakeholders risk losing them and might be headed for organizational failure.

                        This paper therefore aims at investigating whether the interest of employees and the interests of business really coincide, and what the human resource management should do in the event that they are in conflict? It also investigates the actions that human resource managers should take when there is a case of unethical behavior or unethical treatment of employees in an organization. This was done by looking at the problem faced by employees of Jabil Green Point Inc. in Wuxi, China. A report published on sixth September 2013 by Chinese Labour Watch (CLW) indicates that Chinese workers in Wuxi were being mistreated by Jabil Green Point Inc.

            The specific situation in this case include lack of payment for work performed overtime, poor living conditions, little meal times, overcrowding, and poor payment (CLW, 2013). The plant is also involved in other problems such as excessive work load, undefined working contract, discrimination in hiring employees, lack of proper channels of communication, excessive working hours and lack of safe working conditions, to mention but a few.

 The assumption is that the employees have been communicated to and they believe that the management interest is to make more money while they make employees work for longer hours with little pay increase. This will be based on the argument that the firm intends to use employees to make more money and pay them peanuts. This has lead to conflict of interest between the two parties.

Part 1

Analysis the conflict of interests

            To properly understand the nature of the conflict, it is important to understand that the federal Jabil Inc cannot over look the labor laws of the country. It shows that the company has been involved in unethical and illegal behaviors that are contrary to what is published in their expected work ethics (Gramber 2006). It also shows that this mistreatment only benefits shareholders and investors while the employees who work tirelessly to produce merchandise of the expected standards suffer greatly in the process.

They also need to increase the pay for the employees as much as they want to increase their working hours. These unethical and illegal exploitations of workers include factors such as lack of payment for work performed overtime. The organization is also involved in other problems such as excessive workload, poor working conditions; limited lunch breaks lack of proper channels of communication, and excessive working hours (Towell, 2014).  At the end of it all, the workers’ put a lot of effort and time but only receives minimal wages, are mistreated and are likely to be discouraged due to the exhausting days they have at work.

The interests of the employees are that their working hours be maintained, thus they should not be added even a single minute (Towell, 2014). They also need the company to form effective channels of communication and assure them of receiving lost overtime payment (Gramber 2006). Generally, the workers also need the department to listen to their grievances. Unavailability of managers and personnel who listens to the problems of the employees,’ show that the management of Jabil Inc only care about their gain but not the benefit of workers. Such unjust management of workers normally causes serious conflicts at the place of work.

On the other hand, the owners who are the managers, shareholders and chief executive officers are interested in making more money (CLW, 2013). Unfortunately, they want to do this by overworking and underpaying the workers. They aim at making about $104 million without any pay promise to the workers. They uphold the interest of the company and down plays those of employees. They lack proper conflict resolution techniques and are not able to stand in the gap for the unethical and illegal treatment of employees. Lafer (2005) has pointed out that some companies claim that they are committed to ethical business conduct. However, clear reports show that these companies like Jabil Inc only have such proposal in writing but do not practice them. The article has indicated that even though the firm claims to be committed to these regulations, they only say so in paper but not in practice.

Employees have the rights to take salary increases as stipulated in the Chinese labor laws. Every worker is entitled to at least an annual wage increment. However, the employees at the firm receive a typical monthly wage of 245 dollars per worker. This is far much below that average monthly wage for Wuxi residence which f 472 dollars for those employed in private industries and 753 dollars for those working in non private sectors in the country (CLW, 2013).          . They also need to be paid for every single overtime minutes incurred. Clearly the article indicate that the employees do not receive this despite the fact that they work hard for extra minutes per day with accumulates into hours monthly and annually. This is an indication of mistreatment of employees by the organization.

Jabil Wuxi is as well involved in other unethical behavior such as unlawful discrimination against probable employees based on factors such as age and physical appearance. China and American labour laws prohibit any company from discriminating employees based on looks, gender, race, religion, and age among other things (CLW, 2013). All firms must have their employees within all the races and ages found in that particular country. Therefore, the plant not only violates labour laws of one but two countries. The same applies to its application of international labour laws. The employees also complain of lack of organizational and perfunctory training of new staff. They claim that new employees are trained for only two hours and the session does not inform them of safety conditions of the working environment even for those employees who work in duties that involve using dangerous chemicals.

 From the problem stated in this article, it can be said that the two entities are at loggerheads and needs a proper method of solving them (Winstanley &Woodall, 2000). Failure to resolve the conflicts will lead to riots in the organization. This means that the government will lose significant amounts of money when workers are on strike.

Part 2

Three options of resolving the conflicts s

As the human resource manager in charge of workers at Jabil Inc, I believe that there are several options for solving the above named conflict. The first option is for the organization to increase the wages of the employee as much as they want to increase their working hours. They should also be able to pay any outstanding amount owed to the employees on overtime (Gramber, 2006).  This includes additional 11 hours of unpaid overtime that the company owes individual employee of the organization. The second option is to come up with proper channels of communication in which employees can voice their grievances. The channels need to have managers who are able to listen to employees and come up with proper solutions. The third option that human resource management can use to help resolve the conflict between employees and the Jabil Inc  is to ensure that they do not to discriminate any employee based on race, gender, sex, color and ethnicity while hiring them (Gramber, 2006).

The best way for an organization to tackle unethical behavior and unjust treatment of workers is by having a proper channel of communication (Lowry, 2006). Proper communication pathway will make it possible for employees to successfully voice their grievances to the management and owners of the organization. Normally such concerns are taken to managers for proper decision-making. In the case of the department of Jabil Green Point In Wuxi, the sector is accused of not having effective channels through which employees can channel their grievances (Winstanley &Woodall, 2000). This means that, all if not most conflicts arising between employees vs. manager, employees, and other entities such as stakeholders go unresolved

            Failing to resolve employees’ problem is a show of conflict of interest between the needs of the company and those of employees. In this case, the firm is seen to unjustly and unethically behave towards it employees (Rao, 2006). Eventually those working in such firms either opts out or decide to stay put for the sake of earning a living. Gradually the laborers become worked up and more discouraged. The managers within the company must be careful with such sentiments from employees. This is because there is a possibility of the government having high employee turnover. This act is not beneficial for the agency (Lowry, 2006). Such actions might as well reduce the quality of total sales hence minimal profit. Those employees involved in the manufacture sector could also decide to carry out shoddy work. This may lead to production of low quality merchandise hence low competitive advantage for the firm.

            A good firm that practices ethical human resource management does not have to discriminate employees and come up with other stringent measures such as imposing tougher work management methods to keep employees in check (Rao, 2006). This is because employees usually know that they are expected to meet a given standard or value and quality at works as such, they will always tend to carry out their duties without being supervised. Imposing such measure on workers indicates that the leaders of department of human services want to control workers as well as mistreat them in order to gain from such misbehavior.

It is also an indication that that management of Jabil Inc will stop at nothing to squeeze the money out of employees for the gain of the federal government. They have come to the realization that the workers are aware of their rights, as such the management want to resort to using harsh measure to get them do as they are told (Lafer, 2005). This is also a way of instilling threats to the employees so that they can meet the financial needs of the federal government. Autocratic measures indicate a type of leadership in which the leaders interest come first while those of the employees come second. The management can have better methods of evaluating the work performed by employees instead of imposing tough measure on them.

Part 3

The most ethical and professional option

Sometimes conflicts between management interest and the interest of employees in an organization do conflict. When such misunderstandings occur, the management should come up with the most ethical and professional method of solving them. In this case, the most ethical and professional way of solving the disagreement between the manager of Jabil Green Point Inc and their employee is by choosing option 2 which entails forming proper, effective and working channels of communication (Winstanley &Woodall, 2000). The fact that there was an outrage at the union indicates that there is lack of effective channels of communication between employees and employers.

Effective means of communication will allow the employee to request that one or two leaders of the organization should listen to their problems. When this happen, they will be able to voice their concern, for example, the employee representative will ethically request that the management should increase their salary upon making heir working hours longer (Rao, 2006). At the forum, they are able to ethically demand that all the unpaid overtime dues be settled before any further alterations can be made in their work schedule. The managers on the other hand should be able to keenly listen to the problems of the employees.

They should be able to explain to the workers why the government needs to have them work for extra hours and make them some money without paying them. Such discussions should be carried out in a relaxed environment so that no one becomes tense and should aim at creating an understanding between the two parties (Sternberg, 2000). Through such meeting, the federal government managers will be able to come up with solutions to the employees’ problems. The workers on the other hand will understand the need for the government to squeeze more money from them without a salary raise.

Ethical human resource management refers to a situation where the managers treat employees justly. The managers are able to recognize when the interest of the organization and those of employees are at cross roads. They leaders should then be able to solve then in order to bring understanding and peace in the working environment (Campbell, Macklin & Pinnington, 2007). Ethical human resource management is geared towards uniting the employees and the owners of the firm. They should be able to speak the same language without one faction feeling overworked or undermined.

Similarly, professional behavior means working in an environment where laws are passed but not imposed.  All professionals and especially employees know and understand that every firm has rules to be followed. As such, they do not need any leader to impose issues such as work performance evaluation upon them. Proper professional behavior also ensures that no employee is denied his or her constitutional right like going on leave or working within the stipulated hours. Any alteration touching any these factors should be duly communicated to the employee in a meeting (Campbell et al, 2007). It is also unprofessional for employers to use employees in making more money for their own gain. Overworking workers in order to have more funds without raising their salaries or giving compensation is unprofessional behavior.

The above-discussed unethical and illegal behaviors towards employees by the federal government are examples of situations in which managers interest are at cross roads with employees interests. The best way to resolve such issues is by functioning human resource management techniques in place. The method of communication will help in solving the above conflicts by allowing the management to formulate proper employee compensation scheme (Sternberg, 2000). It is evident that the workers have heavy workloads in their shoulders with minimal pay. The human resource management at the department must formulate a method of increasing the salaries of each employee. They also need to ensure that all the debts owed to the workers in the unpaid overtime are availed to each laborer as per the laws of the country.

            The option for effective channels of communication is the best method of solving such conflicts because it creates understanding between managers and employees. It also makes the employees feel valued at their place of work. The method will also make the employees become motivated to work for the intended extra six minutes per day even if they will not have compensation in large amounts. Communication is good for business as it also make employees know the needs of the government and why they intend to raise the extra million dollars for the country. The employees will stop thinking more of what they should have and start contemplating on how they can help the government raise the money as long as it is for a just cause.

            Ethical and professional human resource management should aim at informing employees on the needs of the organization. They should constantly know of any intended changes and be involved in some issue that lead to the alterations to be made. Employees are the most important assets in any place of work, as such, it is important for them to be notified of upcoming changes. These changes should be communicated in advance so that any conflict arising from them might be solved appropriately to allow work to continue. Managers should not feel overly superior to their employees (Campbell et al., 2007). They should not use their positions to make their employees feel inferior. This can lead to some employees with the best skill quitting the job. Other employees might decide to stay but ensure that the firm does not perform well as is expected.

Finally, the company needs to come up with a team that is involved in solving the employee’s problems. They must formulate a process that employees can use for voicing their grievances. Upon receiving complains, the team concerned with solving such problems must critically look into them and work hard to find solutions. The answers to such problems must be first, accurate and happen within a limited period of time (Sternberg, 2000). Thus, the organization must have a management team that listens and solves employee problems. They also need to come up with proper channels of communication and this must be told to the employees so that they know where to pass complaints and complement. To achieve this intention, the management must be composed of managers who have the employees’ best interest at heart.

Conclusion

From the above discussions, it can be seen that sometimes the interest of managers or owners of a firm can conflict with those of employees. It is also evident that every conflict has a solution. The company should use the human resource managers effectively to help them come up with the best solution to such conflicts. The best method of getting to solve the existing conflict is by having effective communication systems. It has always been said that effective communication brings about solutions to many problems.

The managers or leaders of the department of Jabil Green Point in Wuxi, China should aim at creating harmony between them the workers. Thus, they should adopt ethical human resource management in the firm. They should also behave justly towards the employees with an aim of creating a peaceful working environment. Employees on the other hand should also seek explanation about changes that takes place within the firm before opting to be outrageous about them.

References

Campbell, T., Macklin, R. & Pinnington, A. (2007). Human resource management: ethics and employment. Oxford, London: OUP Oxford

China Labour Watch (2013). Chinese workers exploited by a US owned company. An investigation of labor conditions at Jabil Green Point in Wuxi, China. Retrieved from http://www.chinalaborwatch.org/pdf/Jabil_Green_Point.final.pdf

Gramber, B.  (2006). Managing workplace conflict: alternative dispute resolution in Australia. Adelaide, Australia: Federation Press

 

Lafer, G. (2005.) The critical failure of workplace ethics, in Budd, J. and Scoville, J. (eds), The Ethics of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Illinois, Labor and Employment Relations Association

Lowry, D. (2006). HR Managers as Ethical Decision-makers, Asia-Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 44(2)

Rao, L. (2006). International human resource management: text and cases. New Delhi, India: Excel Books India

Sternberg, E. (2000). Just Business: Business Ethics in Action, 2nd edition, New York, Oxford University Press

Towell, N (2014) Union outrage as Human Services prepares ‘shocker’ squeeze on work conditions, The Canberra Times, 8 July 2014,http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service/union-outrage-as-human-services-prepares-shocker-squeeze-on-work-conditions-20140709-zt066.html#ixzz378wiptyA

Winstanley, D. & Woodall, J. (2000). The ethical dimension of human resource management, Human Resource Management Journal 10(2)