An Ethical Benefits Question
Assume that you are the HR manager for a service organization. Your boss recently read that most employees underestimate the value of the benefits provided to them by their employer. He has instructed you to develop a plan for communicating the costs of benefits to your employees. You agree that communicating the information is a good idea; however, he has instructed that you should manipulate the information so that it looks better than the reality.
For example, your firm offers ten sick days per year but the average employee takes only eight days each year. They then forfeit the remaining days. Your boss wants you to talk about this benefit as though everyone took their full allotment. Your firm offers two health insurance options: a basic or standard plan and a premium plan. Both the company and the individual pay more if the premium plan is chosen. He wants you to quote only the cost for the more expensive plan, even though more than half of your workers have chosen the standard plan.
When you questioned his ideas, your boss simply said, “These are the potential costs that we could incur for everyone. Just because people don’t take all their sick days or they select the basic insurance plan, that’s their choice. The company is willing to pay for ten sick days and for the high-end insurance. So we should get credit for being generous.”
1. What are the ethical issues in this situation? Be specific.
2. What are the basic arguments for and against what your boss is instructing you to do?
3. What do you think most managers would do? What would you do? Why would you do this?