Home' HR Monthly : December 2018 Contents 6
he world of work seems like a giant work in progress these days.
Some would have us believe that the digital era and social media
have permanently changed the paradigms for human behaviour,
relationships, norms and interactions to: “You can have it all, and
everything you do is OK.” This writer believes normal paradigms of
society and business have been disrupted by the global digital era,
but the fundamentals of how human beings best relate to one another
have remained the same. Adjustment will be required, however, to
accommodate new ways of living and working.
Today is reminiscent of the social adjustment that occu rred after the
invention of the Caxton printing press in 1450. This was followed by the
rise of pamphleteers offering their broadsheets, which often contained
loose, partisan, flawed, defamatory and ex treme ideological beliefs and
perspectives. Sound familiar?
Nowadays ethical quality control and orthodox reason do not matter
to many social media participants. As more third parties become
damaged by their behaviou r, so will ou r society respond and reassert the
primacy of sound values and ethical behaviour over social media lies. But
will it also take centuries?
These conditions make it a testing time to be in HR. As a custodian
of workplace cultu re, our practitioners are being subjected to many
pressures that allow bad behaviour and practice to proceed unchecked,
or with muted criticism at best.
But the tide is beginning to turn on values in the workplace, and HR
needs to be a proactive player in that change. In last month’s column, the
basics of ethics were outlined. ‘Doing the right thing’ occurs when the
fundamentals of Kantian ethics based on ‘absolute duty’ are integrated
with Utilitarian ethics, which aim to deliver the ‘greatest good to the
Ethics cuts into workplace behaviour and performance through the
application of four simple principles:
• Access – workers should be able to have a say about what happens in
their organisation, and to agree with what’s happening ‘around here’.
• Merit – there should be open access to jobs where pay and reward are
based on merit and transparency.
• Golden rule – we all have the right to be treated well and for
co -workers to be treated similarly.
• Better off – our work should enhance each of us as individuals, and
we should aim to leave the world in better shape than we found it.
Fu rthermore, there are four fields of work where the HR practitioner can
look to apply these four ethical principles:
Inclusion and diversity – know your diversity spectrum. Don’t be
left asking yourself, “how diverse are we?” Survey it until you know
precisely. Ask your diverse employees for their best ideas on becoming
more inclusive. Look to harmonising global opportunities to improve
business performance, drawing on the potential of various workforce
segments. Adopt more flexible approaches to talent attraction, leadership
development and retention. Seek out ways to develop more individual
relationships between employees and managers. Develop greater
knowledge of the expectations of multiple stakeholders and improve
skills to find and apply solutions accordingly.
‘Think global, act local’ – seek to harmonise domestic labour
practices due to international variations in employment legislation.
Adopt the modern operating model for HR; one that’s more project-
oriented and targeted at better organisational effectiveness. Prioritise
communication that sticks to advising core essentials based on fact, a
shared purpose and common values. Ensure consistency of ethical codes
across the global markets where you operate. Survey your colleagues on
where conf licts have occurred with multiple ethical considerations, and
harvest their ideas on solutions.
Absorbing new technology – challenge yourself on being continuously
innovative in job and organisational design, and adopt new ways of
working that capitalise on emerging opportunities. Work hard to
engage those workers who have limited face-to-face interaction with
key decision-makers. Develop management skills that ensu re tasks are
completed without damage to economic sustainability or individual
performance. L ook to reskill and retain obsolete skill-holders rather
than ju mping straight to redundancy.
The change imperative – Manage your knowledge capital matrix
rather than ‘headcounts’ to reshape the profile of the
workforce, from which the desired new leadership
and cultu re will emerge. Allow you r performance
management processes to evolve by measuring and
rewarding the execution of service delivery that
optimises human relationships, and a more positive
culture. Position yourself to lead the necessary
changes to secure a more responsible operation that
safeguards brand and reputation.
Be alert to develop your new Ethics 4.0 framework
by applying these four ethical principles
across workplace practice areas. This
action will almost certainly establish
a comprehensive radar screen within
your H R practice that will help answer
questions likely to emerge from the
cultural wars between business, society
and regulators during 2018-19. •••
An HR guide to shaping modern ethics.
BY PETER WILSON AM FCPHR AHRI CHAIRMAN
To read past Perspective columns by Peter
Wilson, visit hrmonline.com.au
22/11/18 1:16 pm
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