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    HR Management: Developing an Ethics Policy

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    You are the newly hired Human Resources Manager for Thompson-Pritchett, Inc., a customer service and sales organization that has been in operation for two years. You were hired to develop a fully functioning Human Resources department which will provide enhanced HR services for the 150 employees and the leadership team. Over the past two years, the human resources functions have been spread among several individuals within the organization, including an administrative position which processed paperwork and the management team which typically handled their own human resources issues.

    The CEO recognized the need to bring in an HR professional who will provide more strategic support for the organization to help them with their aggressive expansion goals. You are aware that there may be initial resistance from the management team; therefore, you plan to schedule one-on-one meetings with each manager, where you will get to know their leadership styles, department functions, as well as their needs and challenges. You also plan to hold communication sessions with employees to introduce yourself and discuss your role in helping them with HR needs they may have. You realize that trust is earned, and it may take some time for the management team and employees to feel comfortable with you. You are prepared for this!

    Before you can begin addressing organizational issues, it will be important to engage in an organizational analysis to find out where things currently stand. This process consists of familiarizing yourself with the company background and assessing existing challenges and issues. Part of this process may include what is referred to as SWOT analysis-identifying the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and current threats with regard to human resources areas. This type of analysis provides the foundation from which to begin to formulate recommendations.

    The critical areas in which you intend to focus initially include staffing, policy review, training, performance management, pay practices, benefits, career development/recognition, and retention. You are aware that with the HR functions spread among several individuals within the organization, procedures and policies are inconsistent within the organization. Through the centralization of these functions under the "HR umbrella," consistency should be restored.

    You are very much aware that any initiatives you recommend must be tied to the corporate goals and designed to support the CEO's vision for the company. If you are to successfully align yourself as a true business partner, you will need to be prepared to provide financial data and other concrete figures to support your recommendations. For example, in your brief time with the company you quickly recognized an issue with employee turnover. You know that in presenting recommendations for addressing turnover, you will need to show the financial benefit to the company and how a reduction in turnover can lead to an increase in productivity and reduced expenditures. Demonstrating the return on investment for your recommendations will be key.

    Additionally, with all strategies and policies you recommend, you will keep in mind the culture and ethical values of the company and how you can help to support those values through your recommendations. HR policy can either detract from or enhance company performance. You intend to demonstrate, through your recommendations, that you are a strategic business partner focused on helping the company to achieve its goals and remain competitive.

    You realize this will be a challenge and know that effective communication and relationship building will be critical and will help to facilitate the changes to be made. You have considered what will be required, and you are prepared and eager to make a difference!


    1. Corporate ethics have been the focus of increased attention in recent years. Many companies have looked to their HR team to develop a comprehensive ethics policy. You have been asked to develop an ethics policy for Thompson-Pritchett, Inc. After meeting with the CEO, you learn that she would like the policy to cover the following: gifts from vendors, use of confidential information, and conflicts of interest. You take your challenge to an HR networking group. Share your thoughts on the value of an ethics policy to ensure legal and ethical standards are maintained. What measures do you feel should be taken to ensure the policy is enforced? Do you feel there are issues to be considered with implementing an ethics policy? If so, what are they?

    As a second step of this assignment, develop a sample policy to be presented to the CEO. Come to a consensus on the parameters of the policies and a communication plan.

    2. Delegate parts of the policy and communication plan.

    I need help, ideas and suggestions to get me started. I am lost in terms of where to begin. Any help would be appreciated.

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    Solution Preview

    Let's take a closer look through research, discussion and illustrative examples to consider for you final assignment.

    1. What measures do you feel should be taken to ensure the policy is enforced? Do you feel there are issues to be considered with implementing an ethics policy? If so, what are they?

    According to AHI's Employment Law Resource website, you could consider the following prescription (or some of them) for encouraging ethical behavior and preventing ethical disasters.

    - Take the ethical pulse of your workplace. Conduct surveys that ask employees how they would react to hypothetical scenarios. Or ask questions based on the company's ethical standards; then solicit employee opinions as to whether they agree or disagree.

    - Get the support of top brass. Stress the importance of ethics to your company by asking the company president to write a letter or memo expressing the company's commitment to ethical behaviors. Distribute the memo to employees or include it in an ethics guidebook.

    - Enforce by committee. Create an ethics committee that is responsible for compliance with your ethics policy and/or code of conduct. Select committee members that have a high level of credibility with rank-and-file employees.

    - Go public with your commitment to ethical conduct. Release an annual report of ethical challenges faced by the company or accomplishments achieved.

    - Get the word out. Constantly communicate with employees about the importance of ethical behavior. Train managers and supervisors to communicate the company's goals and expectations to employees on a regular basis.

    - Measure success. Establish a simple system to gauge whether or not your employees are walking the ethical walk. For example, audit the number and type of complaints filed or disciplinary warnings handed out.

    - Practice what you preach. Creating and distributing a code of ethics will have little effect if employees witness higher-ups engaging in behaviors the code clearly prohibits (http://www.ahipubs.com/newsletter/ht/ht11.08.05.html).

    In addition, the same website suggests that you will also need to encourage management employees to take an objective look at their own behavior. You might consider having them pose the following questions to themselves.

    - Am I always scrupulously honest in my dealings with employees? Even little white lies that are meant to spare an employee's feelings or to make a negative situation seem more positive can set an unethical example. Resist the temptation to sugarcoat the details when having to deliver bad news.

    - Do I take office supplies home or use company products for personal advantage? You may think nothing of grabbing a box of staples or making copies of personal documents. But if employees see you dipping into the stock room, they might feel entitled as well. What may have started out as grabbing one box of supplies every now and again can turn into empty stockroom shelves and the company having to spend more money on supplies.

    - Do you treat your employees professionally and with respect? Everybody has his/her bad days. But snapping at employees or talking down to them out of frustration not only leads to morale problems, but it also shows employees that it is okay to behave that way themselves.

    - Do you take extended lunch hours or breaks? Do you come into work late or leave early often? Just because you're the manager doesn't mean you have the right to come and go as you please. If you disrespect the value of time to your company, so will your employees. Then, those who see their manager taking extra time away from the office are bound to resent it, and may start extending their time as well.

    - Do you spend a lot of time on personal calls or taking care of personal business during work hours? Don't expect your employees to keep their private lives at home if you don't (Source: http://www.ahipubs.com/newsletter/ht/ht11.08.05.html).

    2. As a second step of this assignment, develop a sample policy to be presented to the CEO. Come to consensus on the parameters of the policies and a communication plan. Delegate parts of the policy and communication plan.

    One approach is to look at illustrative examples that you can use as an exemplar for the Thompson-Pritchett, Inc. This is the approach this response takes.

    Let's consider THREE illustrative examples, which you can use as an exemplar to develop your final ethical policy. The first example is a good one. It includes conflict of interest, confidentiality and gift giving as is indicated in the scenario as essentials. The second and the attached example also has a sections to consider e.g., the attached policy has a section on confidentiality and gift-giving (see section of gifts and benefits at www.bctm.com/pdf/ethics.pdf, p.33, which is attached for convenience) to incorporate into your final policy.

    However, the first example seems to be the best fit with your company's needs in the scenario. You would need to add your company name, however, and write it in your own words, and use the sections that you decide to incorporate into your policy. However, you can consider the other two examples as well, for wording, and the likes. .

    Illustrative Example 1:

    Innerworkings, INC. - Conflict of Interest and Business Ethics Policy

    Statement of Purpose:
    This Conflict of Interest and Business Ethics Policy (this "Policy") of InnerWorkings, Inc. (the "Company") sets forth the Company's beliefs and values in these two critical areas. This Policy is intended to clarify the Company's expectations of its directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents and consultants, thereby helping to prevent situations that might lead to legal, ethical or financial difficulties for you and the Company. This Policy should be read together with other Company policies and procedures. This Policy does not cover every legal or ethical issue that you may confront at the Company. You should follow this Policy and other Company policies and procedures, adhere to the letter and the spirit of all applicable laws and regulations and, above all, apply sound judgment to your activities. Any reference herein to the
    "Company" shall mean the Company and its subsidiaries.

    The Company believes that credibility, integrity and trustworthiness are critical components of the current and future success of its business. The Company is committed to upholding high ethical standards in all of its global operations.

    Your lawful and ethical behavior should take precedence over sales, profits
    and other similar measures of success.

    The integrity, reputation and profitability of the Company ultimately depend upon the ethical and legal behavior of its directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents and consultants all over the world. You are expected to understand, respect and comply with all of the laws, regulations, policies and procedures that apply to you in your position with the Company. You are responsible for talking to your supervisor or manager, the human resources department or other appropriate personnel to determine which laws, regulations and policies apply to your position and what actions are necessary to comply with them. Each of you is personally responsible and accountable for adhering to the principles embodied in this Policy.

    As a director, officer, employee, representative, agent or consultant of the Company, you are required to read this Policy and adhere to its terms. Violation of this Policy, in letter or in spirit, is grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination.

    The Company will compete in the global marketplace on the merits of its products and services. All purchases and commitments on behalf of the Company shall be made solely on a sound commercial basis considering quality, price, ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution responds fully to the questions based on the case scenario. By discussion and example, it discusses the need for an ethics policy and provides assistance in developing an ethics policy. References are also provided.