Workplace Ethical Dilemma Scenarios

Ethical dilemmas at work can make you feel as if you are being put on the spot, especially if it involves a workplace friend. The dilemma can leave you wondering if you should keep your mouth shut about the behavior, which would make you an accomplice, or tell a superior about what you have witnessed. While you don’t want to lose a friend, you also don’t want to be mired in a scandal and lose your job.

Ethical dilemmas can be internal as well, which can leave you feeling guilty if you do something that can be perceived as wrong by others, but seems harmless on the surface. What would you do in these scenarios?

Conducting Personal Business

With many companies using the Internet for workplace pursuits, what harm could come from checking your personal email or checking your bank balance while on the clock? Unfortunately, these activities are an abuse of your employee’s time and money because you are conducting personal business while you are supposed to be working for them.

There may be shades of gray when conducting personal business during company hours. You cannot foresee an emergency at home, so you may have to take a personal phone call at work occasionally and most bosses will understand those situations. However, clarify the rules on Internet and phone use for personal business with management or human resources.

Skimming from the Company

Suspecting a colleague of skimming funds from the company can put you on the spot, especially if the colleague happens to be someone you know well. While skimming, which is another term for embezzlement, is a crime, how do you handle the situation?

If you tell and you’re wrong, you would be embarrassed and it could make you seem vindictive. However, if you are correct, a friend could lose his or her job. Is it your place to say something or should you overlook it in case you are wrong about your suspicions?

The best thing to do may be to leave an anonymous tip about your suspicions and let the chips fall where they may. An investigation will be conducted and the situation dealt with, but it cannot come back on you if the tip is anonymous.

These are just two of a plethora of workplace ethical dilemmas that you may come across. Clarify how to deal with them with HR so you are not caught in the middle.

Business Ethics Explained

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.