Ethical Issues Inherent with Workplace Stress

Work stress

Ethical issues inherent with workplace stress can include everything from lying to protect a colleague or supervisor, to breaking a contract.

What are Ethics?

Ethics, as it relates to the workplace, is when there is a conflict between two or more parties where one benefits at the expense of the other. An ethical dilemma can also arise when there is a conflict between the moral rules and the violation of that rule.

Examples of Ethical Issues Inherent with Workplace Stress

So, what do some of the ethical issues inherent with workplace stress look like? In short, they can take many different forms. Here are some examples to help explain:

  • Knowing that a client, one who is currently facing financial difficulties, can find the product your company produces at a cheaper price at a competitor. Should this be mentioned to the client?
  • An employee deserves strong recognition, but is currently being paid at the top of the salary grade, and too many other employees are in the grade above him, so he cannot be promoted. What should one do?
  • Unbeknownst to the employee, he will soon be laid off. A manager knows this, but also knows that the employee will be buying braces for her young daughter. What, if anything, should be said?
  • A fellow employee plans to quit the company in two months time, but a new project is already in the works for that employee to oversee. Does this pose a dilemma?

Resolving Ethical Conflicts

To resolve ethical issues inherent with workplace stress, one should ask the following questions:

  • Is this legal? Is this dilemma a violation of civil law or company policy?

Asking questions like these can quickly resolve an ethical dilemma because here there's a black and white, right or wrong feel to the situation. Obviously, if something is illegal, whether determined by the state/federal government or the "laws" of the company, then the answer to the ethical problem becomes all the more clear.

  • Is the answer to the dilemma balanced? Will it be fair to all concerned in both the short term and long term? Does this answer promote win-win relationships?

Here's where things get a bit dicey. When it comes to ethics and the workplace, the odds are good that no one will be leaving, especially in the short term. Due to this fact, it becomes of paramount importance that the resolution found will promote a win-win feel for all the parties involved. This way, no one leaves the situation feeling disenfranchised.

  • How will you feel? Am you proud? If this decision were to be published and made public knowledge, how would your loved ones respond?

These questions are very subjective, but that is exactly how they should be. Once the first two questions are answered satisfactorily, the situation turns personal. If the resolution reached makes one feel proud and unashamed, then chances are good that it was the right decision.

Additional Resources

Resolving ethical dilemmas is not always an easy thing to do. For that reason, it is beneficial to reach out for guidance. The first step to take is to visit with upper level management. The odds are very good that these supervisors have been around for a while and as such, have probably faced many of ethical concerns (some of the very ones listed previously). These supervisors will therefore be in a very good position to help guide or direct the situation.

If for some reason this route is not possible, then it's time to head to the Human Resources department (HR). HR specializes" in ethical dilemma resolutions and will defiantly have information handy, including what the next appropriate steps should be. Perhaps most importantly, they will also be able to provide accurate legal information and speak authoritatively on any legal ramifications that may be present.

For private research, and to learn more, visit any of the highlighted sites below. These sites clearly outline additional steps that can be taken, and provide guidance and resources that may be helpful:

Ethical Issues Inherent with Workplace Stress