By Seth Romo—When an HR Director of Odessa, a fictional oil and gas company, decides to hire employees after a layoff, she brings in new millennial talent and faces unexpected challenges. Simply: The new millennial employees find the on-call work rotations to demand too much of their time that could be spent elsewhere.
This was the case study discussed during the Business Ethics Forum (BEF) luncheon held on December 2, 2016 at The University of St. Thomas. The luncheon consisted of executives from BEF and MBA students from the Ethical and Moral Business Management course led by Dr. Dominic Aquila, University of St. Thomas provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The case study created much discussion between the two demographics during the luncheon because it touched on a few questions:
- Should millennials demand their employers to change corporate practices?
- What ethical principles are there when it comes to managing employees?
- Should leisure time activities matter to employers?
Should millennials demand their employers to change corporate practices?
It’s no surprise that millennials are becoming more dominant in the workplace—and with that comes values that may be new to corporate practices.
In the scenario of Odessa, newly hired millennial employees quickly found the on-call structure to demand too much time and began to push back on management to change the policies. This created a company rift between older generation employees who deemed their new millennial coworkers as entitled.
I felt this concern to be important because it shows how fresh eyes can highlight a company’s practices that may be in need of a refresh. I believe accommodating employees, to a certain extent, is important as long as it ensures a strong workforce and maintains productivity that is mutually beneficial.
Many employees value employers that support cultures of work/life balance; and with millennials, understanding the underlying trend of what influences productivity can have dramatic positive impacts.
What ethical principles are there when it comes to managing employees?
During the Ethical and Moral Business Management course, we discussed several principles. The principle I found most applicable was that of solidarity as a value held by the Catholic Church.
Solidarity emphasizes the value and respect towards the human person. By respecting employees as humans, companies stand to benefit from a workforce that appreciates a company that respects them.
While the millennials were informed of the practices prior to being hired, the HR director still had a duty to respect all employees as human beings and work diligently to ensure a balance between wants of the employee and needs from the company.
Should leisure time activities matter to employers?
Employers should only be concerned with leisure activities if they put the company at risk or if the employee has specifically disclosed the information. For example, if an employee is engaging in illegal activities, the employer should immediately address the situation to ensure the company is not targeted for activities it is not directly related to.
Subsequently, if an employee discloses activities such as pursuing a degree, the employer should determine how/if company policies can cooperate with the employee’s academic choices that may prove to be beneficial for the company in the long-run. By supporting employees on their choices to advance their careers, companies can stand to benefit from having emerging leaders with skills and experience in their company as it can fill future positions that may be available from earlier generations leaving the company.
However, there is an underlying ethical issue with understanding leisure time for employees, and that is privacy. Social media has become a major influence in hiring employees and can even provide details that cannot legally be asked. Employers must be careful with how information is received as it may not be accurate, or if it is assumed early on based on social media, there may be legal issues as to how the employer received and reacted to the information.
I found the discussion beneficial because it created a space for dialogue about how millennials can influence corporate practices. As a millennial, I believe it is important for companies to be willing to adapt so long as it creates growth and productivity. I don’t believe millennials should expect all demands to be met, but at least be provided the opportunity to be heard.
Univ. of St. Thomas, CSB