The working environment and condition presented to employees is an important determinant that can influence ethical outcomes. This is because as stakeholders in the organization, employees deserve to experience decent working conditions that signify their personality and identity is being respected (Burgard & Lin, 2013). Unfortunately, it is not always that the right working condition needed to uphold the respect and dignity of employees is protected. Typical example of this is when there is an unsafe working condition. Turner-Moss et al. (2014) explained that an unsafe working condition is one that puts the health, safety and dignity of employees at risk and to disrepute. As a matter of fact, an unsafe working condition is not an issue that only affects the employee – as much as it should not even be allowed to exist. This is because studies show that there is direct and significant relationship between working conditions and employee morale. A study by Oka (2016) established that the safer employees feel at the workplace, the higher their morale and attitude towards work. Berliner et al. (2015) also found that the nature of working conditions present could go very long ways to impact on the relationships that exist between employees and their superiors. Meanwhile, the two variables or factors of employee morale and working relationship have all been found to directly impact on productivity (Burgard & Lin, 2013). By inference, when there is unsafe working environment, it could impact very negatively on the productivity of organizations.
Because of established relationship between working conditions and productivity, Turner-Moss et al. (2014) identified a very worrying situation, where most companies thought of as well to do and having large market capitalization were found to be the worse culprits of unsafe working conditions. This situation arises because most of these companies perceive that they do not have much to loss when productivity declines by certain margins. A typical examine that exemplifies this situation is the numerous times that global firms such as Walmart and McDonald’s has been caught in the issue of working alleging unsafe working conditions. On March 16, 2015, Lobosco Katie reported the news of McDonald’s workers alleging unsafe working conditions. The commonest form of unsafe working condition that the employees reported was safety issues, where they claimed they had been hurt several times while working. More specifically, there were 28 workers from 19 different cities filing complaints against McDonald’s in only two weeks over cases of injuries they had suffered while working (Lobosco, 2015). Regrettably, such employees are those who receive the least pay at the workplace but do the most quantity of work.
Based on the nature of the issue, Oka (2016) described it as an ethical one, since the company seem to place its economic interests ahead of the safety of its core stakeholders such as employees. indeed if such big companies could easily and readily experience the impact of reduced productivity associated with unsafe working conditions on their finances, they would feel the need to act more proactively towards them. However, because of the brand equity and competitive advantages they have already gained, they hardly experience the impact of such reports of unsafe working conditions and are therefore more likely to either ignore them or do nothing about them. There are a number of ways in which best practices can be implemented by companies to avoid the negative behavior of unsafe working conditions. First, the companies must prioritize the safety of employees and take full responsibility for any safety issues. once this is done, they will feel the need to provide safe working conditions. Also, the companies must take monitoring more seriously so that issues of unsafe working conditions can be detected earlier before they get out of hand. As far as McDonald’s is concerned, its ethical practices in relation to working conditions will be rated only as fair.
- Berliner, D., Greenleaf, A. R., Lake, M., Levi, M., & Noveck, J. (2015). Governing global supply chains: What we know (and don’t) about improving labor rights and working conditions. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 11, 193-209.
- Burgard, S. A., & Lin, K. Y. (2013). Bad jobs, bad health? How work and working conditions contribute to health disparities. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(8), 1105-1127.
- Lobosco, K. (2015). McDonald’s workers allege unsafe working conditions. CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/16/news/companies/mcdonalds-working-conditions/index.html
- Oka, C. (2016). Improving working conditions in garment supply chains: the role of unions in Cambodia. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 54(3), 647-672.
- Turner-Moss, E., Zimmerman, C., Howard, L. M., & Oram, S. (2014). Labour exploitation and health: a case series of men and women seeking post-trafficking services. Journal of immigrant and minority health, 16(3), 473-480.