In this case study, a number of human resource management issues and concerns can be identified to provide an opportunity to suggest ways for solving them. The key stakeholders in this case study included a potential recruit, company’s senior managers, and a human resource manager. The case study helps to highlight and understand some of the unethical practices and negligence by human resource managers who are charged with the responsibility of ensuring an employee’s proper orientation and wellbeing at the workplace.
Issues and Concerns Identified in the Case
Firstly, when Laney tells the human resource manager about a potential candidate to replace the current general manager and the manager, agrees to meet Jane and plans to share the $500 referral fee with Laney. Apparently, soliciting money to recruit an employee is professional misconduct in human resource practice. In fact, after receiving the referral fee, he never bothered with Jane again. Bribery is an ethical issue in human resource management, for instance, during recruitment and selection. Recruitment involves announcing available job vacancies so that qualified applicants can apply to the positions through a competitive selection process, not through underground deals where recruiters collude with others to be bribed (Greenwood, 2013). The process requires that recruits are positively solicited from a pool of potential employees (Christopher, 2015). In Rock Bottom Soda Company, the selection for the general manager’s position was not done competitively, and this could have prevented the human resource manager from getting the best candidate.
It appears that Richard was motivated by the desire to get half of the referral bonus which was unethical. In conventional human resource practice, the process of recruitment should help to generate a pool of qualified persons for organizational jobs, but this did not happen in the current case. It is considered as an unfair recruitment and selection practice by asking for bribes before and after the selection and recruitment process (Christopher, 2015).
When Richard employed Jane with the intent of receiving half of the $500 referral bonus, it was professional misconduct; it is considered as corruption in human resource practice (Vinayan, 2015). Moreover, It was possible that better candidates than Jane could have been identified if the process would have been done competitively. However, Richard preferred Jane because he knew it would be easier to convince Laney to share with him half of the bonus due to their closeness. According to Vinayan (2015), human resources comprises sensitive activities such as recruitments, rewards, and promotions. The recruitment involves discretion, particularly the human resource manager is required to be considerate. The possibility of benefitting against the public good or doing favors exists, and individuals who engage in such practices are considered corrupt. Corruption occurs in opaqueness or in the context of concealed information, such as in the case of Richard and Laney. Undoubtedly, corruption is an unethical practice that erodes the credibility of an individual and the organization (Greenwood, 2013).
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Secondly, Bertha shows prejudice to Jane by telling her openly that she did not want her to take over the job, wrongfully believing that she is Polish. During the week, Bertha refuses to speak to Jane or answer her questions thereby denying her the chance to learn from her how the department works. Learning from Bertha was very critical if the transition was to take place smoothly in the department. However, when Jane reports to Richard the problems that she going through and requests for an urgent meeting, he refuses to provide time for such a meeting claiming that he was busy with some other duties. In fact, weeks passed before he could organize for a meeting that seemed necessary for Jane to assume her responsibility effectively.
Thirdly, Richard failed to put in place proper report channels as well as health and safety measures at work. When Jane encounters problems with Bertha during the transition week, she did not know who to report her problems to apart from Richard who seemed busy all the time. It is notable that when Jane realized that Richard was not going to help her in the situation, she resorted to consulting anyone and everyone that she could get hold of. She began with her friend Laney who seemed not to be aware of who to contact because he told Jane that he did not know who to talk to about her problem. Apparently, if the company had a proper reporting channel, Laney could have told her who to speak to. Over the next few days, Jane continued asking her co-workers, who she could talk to, about her concerns, but it appeared, from the responses she got that there was no other person to help solve her problems apart from Richard. In fact, Fran, the director of the operation, tells Jane that it is only the human resource department that could solve the problem. Lack of a clear reporting channel prompts Jane to report to the Pottsville environmental office when the company’s newly hired safety compliance officer intentionally dumped sewage from the bathroom into a manhole in the factory, and this violated Pottsville environmental code. However, the new officer is unapologetic and abusive, and when she reports the matter, the supervisor seems to support the action of the officer.
Fran, the supervisor, asks Jane to resume her work and forget about the incident even though slanderous comments had been made about Jane. The human resource department at Rock Bottom Soda Company does not have strict measures to apply to those who spread malice and slanderous statements against their colleagues, evident by failure to take action against the officer who poured sewage into a manhole in the company. If the company had stringent policies, serious action could have been taken against the officer. Human Resource department is supposed to ensure respect for every employee regardless of the culture or racial origins.
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Moreover, there is a communication breakdown between the department of human resources and the company’s employees. For instance, Richard was supposed to have a meeting with Jane, and weeks went by without communicating with Jane. Even Robert’s assistant kept telling Jane that Richard was not in the office and that he would contact her in case of a meeting, which never happened. Communication plays a critical role in all human actions. Therefore, miscommunication may have severe consequences. In Rock Bottom Soda Company, Richard did not appreciate the importance of communicating with Jane even though she went to his office several times to have an audience with him. Communication helps to impart understanding in another person. In this case, if Richard had accepted to have a meeting with Jane, the misunderstandings that took place eventually could have been avoided. Jane could have known the importance of completing her employment forms, and when to call for a sick out. The ethical issue Richard and the company’s Human Resource Department failed to fulfill included providing true information, being faithful, exaggerating the truth to mislead, and withholding important information that employees need.
Finally, the department of human resources appears to lack of employment policies. When Jane returned to the office four days after visiting the hospital, Richard told her that she was no longer eligible for employment because she did not follow the company’s policy regarding calling out of work. However, Jane defends herself saying that she never got information regarding the company’s policies, but Robert tells her Bertha should have done that before leaving the company. Richard forgot that Jane had approached him on several occasions to mediate between her and Bertha. In fact, even the new hire onset that Jane needed to have signed had not been completed possibly because of the bad working relations between her and Bertha. Without the new hire paperwork completed, it was not going to be easy for Jane to claim unemployment or workers’ compensation. Indeed, Robert promised to deny that Jane was an employee of the company if she ever sought unemployment or worker compensation. According to Christopher (2015), failure to conduct accurate job preview and failure to disclose positive and negative characteristics of a given job at the time of entry into an organization may cause undue expectations, cause frustration as well as eventual turnover. Apparently, the human resource department of Rock Bottom Soda Company under the leadership of Richard failed to disclose the characteristics of Jane’s job and what the company expected from her. The document containing ethical policies or codes is also important because it highlights the standards that an organization expects from its employees and what kind of management is required (Christopher, 2015). If the organization had readily available policies in place, then Jane could have known where to report her grievances. However, a lack of clear policies prompted her to seek help from outside of the company which Richard considered a gross violation.
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This case study has provided an opportunity to understand how human resource professionals can misuse their positions by participating in unethical practices. Firstly, colluding with another employee to influence the process of recruitment is an unethical practice, which the human resource manager should have avoided in his practice. Similarly, organizations need to ensure the issuance of employment policies at the time of recruitment, and it is the duty of the HR department. Even in cases where such a responsibility is devolved to the departments, then the HR practitioners should ask employees whether they understand and agree with them to avoid future mistakes such as those in the case of Jane. Finally, communication is very critical for the HR department to know the challenges that employees are encountering in the discharge of their duties.