1.1 Background of the Study
In the modern business landscape, the establishment of ethical principles within organizations has become imperative for maintaining not only a positive public image but also for fostering a healthy work environment.
Ethics can be regarded as the "Science of Morals." The term "ethics" has its roots in both Latin, derived from "Ethicus," and Greek, stemming from "Ethic's." The foundation of these two words can be traced back to "ethos," a term denoting character.
Character, in contrast to behavior, is an inherent and fundamental element that originates from within. Ethics, in its simplest terms, can be defined as a doctrine or field of study concerning moral values, principles, and societal guidelines for conduct. It encompasses a set of moral principles or values held by individuals or society, guiding their perception of what is morally good or bad, right or wrong, and subsequently influencing their behavior and actions (Parthasarathy, 2017).
Business ethics, on the other hand, refer to the moral principles that provide guidance on how businesses should conduct themselves. They dictate the actions of individuals within businesses, distinguishing between what is morally right and wrong (Business Case Studies, 2018). For any business organization, the establishment of codes of conduct and ethical guidelines is crucial. These ethical considerations not only shape internal behavior but also influence public perception of the organization. Ethical practices are intrinsically linked to an organization's identity and reputation, making them a fundamental aspect of self-presentation (Okikiola, 2022).
Moreover, ethics play a crucial role in the context of Human Resource Management (HRM), specifically concerning employee-related issues. Human Resource Management (HRM) represents a strategic and well-organized method for overseeing an organization's most prized assets: its workforce, comprised of individuals who, both individually and as a team, play a pivotal role in attaining the company's goals. The terminology "human resource management" and "human resources" have predominantly supplanted the use of "personnel management" when characterizing the activities associated with overseeing individuals within organizations (Parthasarathy, 2017).
Human Resource Management (HRM) plays a critical role in ensuring that organizations attract and retain the right talent necessary for their prosperity. HRM encompasses a wide range of activities, including recruitment, training, compensation, policy development, and the formulation of strategies to maintain a skilled workforce(University of Minnesota, 2023).
The landscape of Human Resource Management (HRM) is undergoing rapid transformation. HRM encompasses both an academic framework and a practical approach aimed at addressing the theoretical and hands-on methodologies involved in workforce management (Parthasarathy, 2017). Within this intricate array of functions, ethical considerations occupy a crucial position. When ethics are seamlessly integrated into HRM practices, organizations cultivate an environment characterized by equity, respect, and the well-being of their employees.
Historically, Human Resources managers were often perceived as the regulatory mechanism of the employing organizations, primarily responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of the organization. However, as organizations progress and become increasingly conscious of ethical concerns, they recognize the pivotal role of these professionals as "ethical agents" (Beatty et al., 2003).
The increased attention on HR professionals stems from two primary reasons. Firstly, it's widely acknowledged that jobs within the HR domain serve as a testing ground for ethical scenarios, particularly due to the multifaceted nature of their roles (Wooten, 2001). Consequently, it's imperative to scrutinize the situations in which HR professionals are frequently immersed, gathering valuable insights that can aid them in reflecting upon and enhancing their capacity to adeptly handle ethical challenges. Their proficiency in resolving such dilemmas is increasingly crucial for achieving business success.
Secondly, given their pivotal role in addressing ethical matters, it is vital for organizations to gain a deeper comprehension of the conflicts HR professionals encounter and to appreciate their perspectives. Recognizing these issues becomes especially pertinent as HR managers often function as representatives for workers or unions. With heightened organizational awareness, HR managers can identify opportunities within the predominantly business-focused decision-making processes to highlight ethical considerations that hold personal significance. Without the freedom to act without fear of reprisals, CEOs may discover that issues escalate, leading to further complications and costs (Treviño and Nelson, 2011).
Ethics influence decision-making across organizational levels and departments. When it comes to HRM, ethical considerations are directly tied to how employees are treated, managed, and developed. The process of recruitment and selection, for instance, must adhere to ethical principles to ensure fairness and equal opportunity.Ethical considerations in Human Resource Management (HRM) revolve around the moral aspects of the employer-employee relationship, encompassing the rights and responsibilities that exist between employers and employees. HRM ethics can be defined as the proactive moral responsibilities of employers or businesses towards their employees, aimed at upholding principles of equality, equity, and justice (Okikiola, 2022). Ethical practices can guide employee motivation and job satisfaction, which in turn impact overall productivity and organizational success.
The interplay between ethics and HRM has far-reaching implications for employee well-being, organizational culture, and overall business performance. However, achieving this alignment is not without its challenges, as organizations often grapple with complexities arising from the intersection of business interests and employee rights. This study however seeks to comprehensively investigate the interplay between ethics and HRM.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nowadays, it is widely accepted that corporations are encouraged to behave in an ethically responsible way. As organizations strive for ethical business practices, the incorporation of ethics into HRM becomes critical. The ethical dimension of HRM has gained prominence as organizations face challenges related to fairness, transparency, diversity, employee rights, and corporate social responsibility.
Balancing the interests of the organization with the well-being and rights of employees is a delicate task. The emergence of issues such as discrimination, harassment, unequal compensation, and privacy breaches has highlighted the need for a comprehensive understanding of ethical principles in HRM practices.
1.3 Aim of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to comprehensively investigate the interplay between ethics and HRM.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The study seeks to achieve the following objectives:
- To assess the level of awareness of ethical principles among HR professionals
- To assess the impact of ethical HRM practices on employee satisfaction, retention, and organizational performance.
- To analyze the challenges and dilemmas faced by organizations in implementing ethical HRM practices.
- To explore the role of HR professionals in promoting and enforcing ethical conduct within organizations.
1.5 Research Questions
The study will address the following research questions:
- How aware are HR professionals of ethical principles in HRM?
- How do ethical HRM practices influence employee satisfaction, retention, and organizational performance?
- What challenges do organizations encounter when trying to implement ethical HRM practices?
- How do HR professionals contribute to the promotion and enforcement of ethical conduct in organizations?
1.6 Research Hypothesis
H0: There is no significant relationship between ethics and human resource management.
Ha: There is a significant relationship between ethics and human resource management.
1.7 Justification of the Study
In an era where corporate ethics and social responsibility are under increasing scrutiny, understanding the ethical dimensions of HRM is crucial. This study's findings will contribute to the existing body of knowledge by shedding light on the complex interactions between ethical considerations and HRM practices. It will provide valuable insights for organizations, HR professionals, and policymakers on how to navigate the ethical challenges in managing human resources effectively.
1.8 Scope of the Study
This study will focus on HR professionals working in various industries across Nigeria. It will cover areas such as ethical awareness, common ethical challenges, the impact of ethical HRM and the role of HR professional in the promotion and enforcement of ethical conduct in organizations.