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Honesty at work

The behaviour of people and organisations around the world is guided by a set of standards, which are informed by values, norms and mores. The standards are in essence ethical practices. In today’s workplace there are many known acts of dishonesty which can be identified.

Honesty is one of those society values which is expected to be practised in a workplace. It is an expectation of both the employer and employee. It is unlikely that the average individual could claim that he/she does not know what honesty is all about. In the socialisation of a child, parents, the church and the school, would have played a major role in teaching the societal values to which all should subscribe.

The value system passed down from generation to generation underpins how people behave in all aspects of life. Our value system is guided by the Ten Commandments that are found in the Bible. As far as the practice of honesty is concerned, it is a mode of behaviour that is dictated by the eight commandment, which teaches that “Thou shall not steal”. Following on this, it is generally accepted that stealing in any form is wrong.

When the topic of dishonesty in the workplace is discussed, the idea of workers cheating the employer is the usually the first thing that comes to mind. How many of us ever stop to think of the other forms of dishonest acts that employees may be guilty of committing that are far removed from taking property that is not theirs?

Isn’t the abuse of privileges not part of the act of dishonesty? Aren’t time wasting, malingering, the taking of excessive sick days because of poor relations with management, a supervisor or a colleague(s) not inappropriate and an act of dishonesty?

Wouldn’t habitual late arrival at work, taking extensive lunch hours, leaving early from work and not pulling one’s weight in the organisation, be considered acts of dishonesty? Whilst it is true that in some instances any of the actions may be derivative from a prevailing set of circumstances, these actions cannot be endorsed; for they are neither fair nor just.

This picture so far painted can be misleading, as the impression may be conveyed that employees are the biggest culprits. Nothing can be further from the truth. Employers’ deeds are equally disconcerting. Take the classic case where an employer withholds the just wage due to an employer. It is not uncommon for employers to engage workers and offer them pay that falls below the standard pay for a particular job. This is what is known as worker exploitation.

The situation gets worse, as some employers attempt to deny workers their rights and entitlements. They basically prey on the perceived ignorance of the employees of the law, regulations and procedures. Those employers who deny workers the right to join a trade union of their choice, to freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively, can be accused of being down right dishonest.

Is it fair that an employer should find comfort in having his/her enterprise being a member of an employers association organisation which would seek to advance the interest of its members, yet take to denying their employees a right that is enshrined in the law of the land? Is it that such cries of foul play contribute to the adverse or subtle forms of dishonesty that employers charged against their employees?

Those employers who attempt to refuse to pay employees their due as in time and half or double time pay as applicable for overtime work, are blatantly dishonest. Those who refuse to pay national insurance benefits payments on the behalf of their employees having made the required statutory deduction are equally dishonest. The list of dishonest act is almost exhaustive. It is not to the credit of any employer to engage in some unethical practices, as the consequence can sometimes be devastating.

The issue of intellectual dishonesty is another area of concern. Workers are known to offer several ideas and suggestions for improvements in the operations of their enterprise. Seldom these are given the credit, recognition or rewarded for their meaningful input. They are often forgotten, while management takes the credit and more often than not, the enhanced remuneration package and benefits.

Lying, theft, misuse of company’s time and absence under false pretence by employees are not to be condoned. Employers and management are equally guilty of dishonesty where upon they are prepared to distort the truth, bend the rules, or make undeliverable promises.

* Dennis de Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.

Visit our Website: www.regionalmanagementservicesinc

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