Human resources team member behaviour

Using the code of conduct you sourced in the previous activity ‘Code of conduct’, detail
the elements that would need to be included to integrate the organisation’s code of
conduct within a performance management policy.
(Use the APS recruitment policy elements example above to assist you with completing
this activity.)
Locate the Australian Hardware recruitment or performance management policies and
procedures on the IBSA simulated business website.
How have organisational values, ethical considerations and legal concerns been
integrated and written into these policies and procedures?
Note: Simulated business information, including business and operational plans,
financial information, and policies and procedures (including performance
management) can be located online at http://simulations.ibsa.org.au/.
Human resources team member behaviour
Human resources professionals must ensure that their personal behaviour is consistently
ethical and reflects the values of the organisation. They must ensure that they are
personally aware of the organisation’s code of ethics, code of conduct and values and
abide by these at all times.
Managers and employees often look to human resources team members as role models
of expected behaviours, and for this reason it’s critical that human resources team
member’s actions are in accordance with good business ethics and organisational values.
Human resources managers must ensure that their team members are clear about the
ethical expectations of their behaviour to ensure that the right behaviours are being role
modelled by the team.
Human resources managers can ensure team members are clear about the ethical
expectation of their behaviour through:
● education regarding the organisation’s code of ethics, code of conduct and
organisational values
● training regarding the practical application of the code of ethics and code of
conduct in the workplace using scenarios
● debrief of recent business situations involving ethics and values during team
meetings to assist with learning what is expected.
Section 4 – Integrate Business Ethics in Human Resources Practices Student Workbook
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Learning activity: Human resources team member behaviour
Answer the questions below.
How do you ensure that your behaviour is consistently ethical and reflects the values of
the organisation?
What strategies could you implement to ensure that your team behaves in a way that is
consistently ethical and reflects the values of the organisation?
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Observe confidentiality requirements
One of the most important ethical expectations of human resources professionals is
maintaining confidentiality. Human resources professionals are exposed to large amounts
of confidential information regarding employees such as:
● salaries and wages
● performance
● job applications
● promotions
● terminations (retrenchment and resignations).
Managers and employees expect that confidentiality of this information is maintained by
human resources departments. A break in this trust can have severe impacts on the
human resources team’s ability to effectively support the business.
The human resources professional’s business ethics are often put to the test regarding
confidentiality of information; however, it is important to recognise that confidentiality
must always be maintained except in very special circumstances, such as if there is a
threat to a person’s life or if it is required to be disclosed by law.
Example: Retrenchment at Australian Hardware
Connie is currently working with the operations manager to identify a number of
employees who will be retrenched as a result of a downturn in sales.
Connie is good friends with one of the store managers, Patricia. Connie knows that
Patricia is very concerned that she may be made redundant, as her husband was made
redundant last month and has still not been able to find another job.
Patricia approaches Connie and asks her if she is going to be retrenched as she needs
as much notice as possible to ensure she has plenty of time to find another job as her
husband is still not working.
Connie tells Patricia that she cannot tell her if she is going to be retrenched as this
would be a breach of the organisation’s code of conduct, and the operations manager’s
trust.
Patricia starts to cry and begs Connie to tell her. Connie explains to Patricia again that
she cannot tell her. Patricia gets very annoyed and storms off crying. Connie feels
terrible but knows she has done the right thing. At this stage, the business is not in any
position to announce any retrenchment as no final decisions have been made, and if
she had told Patricia then, in fairness, all employees should be told.
Section 4 – Integrate Business Ethics in Human Resources Practices Student Workbook
1st edition version: 1 BSBHRM501 Manage human resource services
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Learning activity: Maintaining confidentiality
You are the HR manager at Savings Financial Solutions and have just assisted the
finance director to recruit a new accountant to join the accounting team. This team
have been disgruntled for some time regarding their salaries and have been asking the
finance director for a pay rise which has been refused.
You are good friends with Simon, one of the accountants. On the weekend you are
having dinner with Simon and he explains that he is upset because he has heard the
new accountant is being paid $10,000 more than he is. He says he is thinking he will
leave as this is unfair. You know this is not true and in actual fact the new accountant
is being paid less than Simon.
How would you respond to Simon?
Deal with unethical behaviour
It is essential that all unethical behaviour is dealt with promptly. Failing to address issues
quickly can send a message to employees that the organisation accepts or condones the
behaviour and therefore it is acceptable. Addressing unethical behaviour promptly sends
a strong message to employees that the behaviour will not be tolerated.
Addressing unethical behaviour
All breaches of an organisation’s code of conduct must be investigated and dealt with.
The typical process for addressing unethical behaviour is as follows.

  1. Receive the complaint or information regarding the breach.
  2. Advise the employee of the issue.
  3. Investigate the breach – speak to any witnesses.
  4. Present the outcomes of your investigation to the employee and provide them with
    time to consider the allegations and respond.
  5. Determine the seriousness of the breach by considering:
    a. the employee’s response to the allegations
    b. if their actions were provoked in any way
    c. any potentially mitigating circumstances.
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  6. Determine and implement the appropriate course of action, such as:
    a. termination (instant dismissal is appropriate for some serious breaches of
    the code of conduct, e.g. assaulting another employee)
    b. first written warning
    c. first and final written warning.
    Human resources professionals must ensure that they have considered the
    organisation’s policies and procedures for dealing with breaches of the code of conduct
    before taking any action. It is also critical that human resources professionals consider
    the legislative requirements applicable to dealing with breach of the code of conduct for
    their organisation.
    Learning activity: Cases involving unethical behaviour
    Use the following links to access cases where employees have been dismissed for
    breaching their organisation’s code of conduct or for unethical behaviour.
    Review each of the cases and answer the following questions.
    Case 1
    ● ‘Timothy Presbury vs. Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited
    (U2009/12786)’ Fair Work Australia, viewed May 2015,
    http://www.fwa.gov.au/decisionssigned/html/2010fwa2282.htm.
    How did the employee breach the code of conduct or behave unethically?
    What was the basis of the employee’s termination?
    Section 4 – Integrate Business Ethics in Human Resources Practices Student Workbook
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    Did the commission support termination? Why or why not?
    What does this case teach you about dealing with breaches of the code of conduct or
    unethical behaviour in the workplace?
    Case 2
    ● ‘Ms Jennifer Delaney vs. Parramatta Leagues Club Limited
    (U2009/11060)’ Fair Work Australia, viewed May 2015,
    http://www.fwa.gov.au/decisionssigned/html/2010fwa1164.htm.
    How did the employee breach the code of conduct or behave unethically?
    What was the basis of the employee’s termination?
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    Did the commission uphold the termination? Why or why not?
    What does this case teach you about dealing with breaches of the code of conduct or
    unethical behaviour in the workplace?
    Case 3
    ● ‘Martine Magers vs. Department of Health and Ageing
    (U2008/8103)’, Fair Work Australia, viewed May 2015,
    http://www.fwa.gov.au/decisionssigned/html/2010fwa831.htm.
    How did the employee breach the code of conduct or behave unethically?
    What was the basis of the employee’s termination?
    Section 4 – Integrate Business Ethics in Human Resources Practices Student Workbook
    1st edition version: 1 BSBHRM501 Manage human resource services
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    Did the commission uphold the termination? Why or why not?
    What does this case teach you about dealing with breaches of the code of conduct or
    unethical behaviour in the workplace?
    Learning activity: Dealing with unethical behaviour
    You are the human resources manager at Black and White Printing. You have just
    received information from a manager that one of your human resources team members
    has disclosed the details of an employee in the printing team’s performance
    management program to other employees in the printing team.
    Detail the steps you would take to deal with alleged breach.
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    As a result of your investigation you have established that your team member did in
    fact disclose this confidential information. The employee’s response to the allegation
    was that it was stupid mistake. He was out with the printing team on Friday night at the
    pub and one of the team asked him what was happening regarding this particular
    employee, to which he responded that the employee is on performance management
    program and is now on his second warning.
    What action would you take and why?
    Section summary
    You should now understand how to manage the integration of business ethics in human
    resources practices.
    Further reading
    ● Australian Public Service Commission, ‘APS code of conduct’, viewed May 2015,
    .
    ● Barry, V. and Shaw, W., 2001, Moral issues in business, Wadsworth, California.
    ● Kramar, R., et al., 2013, Human Resource Management in Australia, 5th edn,
    McGraw-Hill Australia, Ch. 15.
    ● St James Ethics Centre, 2012, ‘Codes of ethics’, viewed May 2015,
    http://www.ethics.org.au/about/what-is-ethics.
    Section 4 – Integrate Business Ethics in Human Resources Practices Student Workbook
    1st edition version: 1 BSBHRM501 Manage human resource services
    Page 114 of 121 © 2015 Innovation and Business Industry Skills Council Ltd
    Section checklist
    Before you proceed to the next section, make sure that you are able to:
     ensure that personal behaviour is consistently ethical and reflects values of the
    organisation
     ensure that code of conduct is observed across the organisation and that its
    expectations are incorporated in human resources policies and practices
     observe confidentiality requirements in dealing with all human resources
    information
     deal with unethical behaviour promptly
     ensure that all persons responsible for the human resources functions are clear
    about ethical expectations of their behaviour.
    Student Workbook Glossary
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