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In the modern world, the
business sector is becoming more increasingly complex and therefore in recent
times, it has become essential for Human Resource (HR) to implement and develop
a culture of ethics and trust within the workforce. HR is an important factor
in achieving such behaviours by ensuring that the employer and employee are
aware of their responsibilities. HR also have an effect on motivation of
employees, the reputation of the organisation viewed by the public and also
must have a recruitment process which employs the best talent and are able to
retain such skills. Enforcing these procedures is needed in order to sustain performance
and create benefits for the organisation as well as the employees. 

The concept of ethics is
about establishing the right from the wrong with relation to how humans behave
towards each other. This can only be achieved with a leader who has an ethical
approach to grey area situations. A leader holds characteristics of power, influence
and responsibility. The leader and follower relationship can be understood
further by understanding ethics. Ethical issues are mainly linked to
leadership, such as authenticity, self discipline and moral obligations. For
example, with regards to the Enron scandal, the top executives were accused for
fraud in 2001 as they were overstating their accounts for their own self

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The way in which a leader
behaves has an effect on the way employees will behave. Leaders are seen as
role models by employees as they set the standards and expectations. Thus,
their failures in relation to morals have a much more weighted effect upon
their colleagues, especially those who are not leaders. Leaders are often
expected to hold an increased level of ethics. However, the issue with this
method of thinking is that employees may feel that it is acceptable for them to
not have the same level of standard. Followers standards are just as important,
if not more important than leaders. The way in which leaders are able to
influence their followers, followers also have the ability to influence their

Many researchers and
scholars agree that the executive management’s practices and morals are vital
for setting an ethical culture within the organisation (Clinard 1983). Hence,
in order to create this type of culture it must begin with leader’s practices
with regards to how they aim to meet their objectives and also how they deal
with any issues in relation to organisation procedures. Acts that are carried
out by senior management must follow the procedures and policies that HR has
integrated in to the workplace. Leaders who are inconsistent with procedures
are one of the main reasons as to why unethical practices occur in an
organisation (Srole, 1956).

HR can not only enforce
procedures into the workplace but they may find that adjustments to the socialisation
and procedures will be needed as they may be outdated. HR could impose mission
statements that focus on health and safety, providing excellent customer
service, being responsible with the local community and natural resources of the
environment. This will enable the employees to understand that the organisation
has many other targets and achievements other than economic goals and want to
behave in an ethical manner.  

In order to communicate these
values, HR could introduce training programs which can aid employees to share
their views on topics such as, conduct codes, any ethical concerns they may
have, techniques in resolving issues related to ethics and also methods on how
behaving ethically can be incorporated into the daily routine of the
organisation (Trevino 1990).

However, these training programs
are costly to the business as training will not only use up financial resources
but also human resources. Therefore it is important that HR are always
following and monitoring the values and procedures which have been taught and
discussed in the training programmes. HR must not only train their employees
effectively but also their management team. HR should be held responsible for
ensuring that superiors are aware of methods of employee motivation and how to
achieve it. A way in this can be achieved is by rewarding employees who display
ethical behaviour in the workplace. However, a much more effective way would be
to adopt and follow the Job Characteristic Model (Hackman & Oldham 1976).


The Job Characteristics
Theory (Hackman & Oldham 1976) tells us how certain characteristics of a
job role can affect the performance of an individual. The theory states that
there are five characteristics and three psychological states that will lead to
increased performance and motivation. Hackman & Oldham’s (1976) first
characteristic is skill variety. This involves the variety of skills that is
needed in order to complete the task as appose to completing a task that is
highly repetitive.

The second characteristic is
task identity. This characteristic entails employees knowing a clear outcome
and has a clear breakdown of the beginning, middle and end of their job. The third
characteristic is task significance. This relates to how meaningful employees
find their task and will their role have an impact on the organisation and the
lives of others. The fourth characteristic is autonomy. Autonomy is the amount
of independence and freedom employees have in figuring out on how to accomplish
their task. The final characteristic is job feedback, which involves employees receiving
feedback on how they have performed and if they have completed their task effectively
or not.

Hackman & Oldham (1976) identify
three psychological states; experience of meaningfulness, experience responsibility
and knowledge of results. In order for employees to find their role meaningful,
they must feel that that their task is valuable to the organisation. The experience
of responsibility means that employees have a sense of accountability for the
work that they have done. Lastly, for the employee to have knowledge of the
results, they must know how they effectively they are completing their job. According
to this theory, an individual must experience all of the states in order to
achieve the overall outcome. If one of the states are missing, motivation will
be decreased. 

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