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Ethical Issues in Staffing Measurement Essay

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2019


The issue of staffing measurement is one of the major roles of the human resources managers in organizations. Societal dynamics require occasional and continual appraisal of employees working in a certain organization. The need to know the ability, development, creativity, and productivity of employees necessitates the aforementioned appraisal. Employees also want to know whether they are improving or not.

Additionally, human resource managers and shareholders also want to know employees that deserve promotion on pure merit. This need qualifies staffing measurement as a crucial undertaking in every organization.

Since staffing measurement involves evaluation of the staff members by their supervisors or managers, it is necessary to observe certain ethical standards in order to ensure balance and fairness in the exercise. Therefore, ethical considerations should be put in place to ensure that performance appraisal is fair.

Ethics in performance appraisal will enable managers to do what is right and morally acceptable. In most cases, the results of staffing appraisal are seconded by rewards and appreciation or punishment. Employees that score high on appraisal are promoted and appreciated through rewards and pay increments, while those that decline in performance are counseled, warned, motivated, demoted, or punished by being laid off.

Worse still, employees with repeated behavior of dismal performance may be dismissed from the organization. With such consequences emerging from staffing measurement, it is important to follow ethical standards to the letter. This paper will discuss ethical issues in staffing measurement from the perspective of organizational governance.

The method/ type of staff appraisal adopted should be ethical

Every organization that is focused on continuous improvement conducts employee appraisals. Managers and human resource officers adopt various types of employee appraisals in different organizations. The method of performance appraisal adopted by the appraisal team should not allow room for biasness, leniency, or favor (Ferris et al. 112).

In most cases, unethical practices like favoritism due to family relations, race, tribe, religion, sex, or other affiliations have hindered fairness. The method of appraisal adopted should be standardized for application to all employees without fear, leniency, or favor.

Some of the methods of performance appraisal adopted by human resource managers enhance unethical appraisal practices. Therefore, it is important for the management and governance of an organization to evaluate the appraisal method for ethical purposes before it is adopted.

One type of employee appraisal is the trait-focused appraisal, which normally attaches importance on employees’ behavior; for example, how punctual, dependable, and useful they are in the organization. This type of performance appraisal is subjective and prone to bias (Compton et al. 196).

Supervisors reserve the power to rate employees within a certain range of rating scale, for example from very good to very poor. This system lacks credibility and reliability; hence, it may promote unethical practices. Another method of performance appraisal that enhances unethical practices is the unstructured appraisal method. This method depends wholly on a personal description of another.

The way a supervisor or fellow employee describe the other to a manager is used in ranking the subject employee. This method is unethical and unreliable since a supervisor or colleague may be biased, envious, or negative towards another, hence give the wrong impression.

Use of straight ranking method of performance appraisal is also subjective and it may direct managers to unethical appraisal practices. This method makes comparisons of one employee to another and ends up with a list of ranking from the best to the worst performer. Comparing employees at the middle especially in a large company may have little or no truth (Heneman et al. 201).

Performance of one employee may appear excellent depending on his or her environment, for instance s/he may have been faced with better and cooperative customers than his/her colleagues, hence s/he was in a position to serve many of them in a little time span. The method is thus open to favoritism and biasness, and thus it may be unethical.

One of the appraisal method considered ethical and fair is “the paired comparison, which compares an individual employee with each of the other employees within a group” (Sandler and Keefe 73). The method aims at realizing only one best performer. Paired comparison is also systematic in using various specific factors in comparing one employee against the other.

Another ethical method of appraisal is the behavior-focused type of performance appraisal, which focuses on Behaviorally Anchored Rating (BARS). This method enhances ethical standards since it relies on specific evaluators. The evaluators give the exact performance of the employee for example, how many tones of goods did the employee sell? Is the employee courteous when talking to the supervisor?

The results of this evaluation culminate at having high performers on top of the list and low performers at the bottom. Chances of biasness and leniency are minimal (Whetzel and Wheaton 86). Another ethical appraisal method is grading and checklist. In this method, there is a standardized grading system of A to F and every employee is rated within the letters by his or her score.

Each letter represents a score set prior to evaluation hence the evaluator has little to judge. Biasness and leniency are thus locked out. Other ethical appraisal methods like management by objective (MBO), which involve workers and their managers coming up with targets that act as benchmark for evaluation, ought to be adopted.

The supervisors and employees set the goals of performance appraisal, and thus feedback is consistent. Use of psychological appraisals, which use objective psychological standards of evaluation to analyze employee emotional stability, intellect, and analytical ability, should also be adopted.

The method does not leave gaps for a supervisor to check his/her relationship with employee, his race, or gender as it is purely psychological. Finally, organizations can also adopt the “360 degrees method of evaluation, which is used by the employer to rate all workers including supervisors and employee for a long period and with various aspects of performance” (Sandler and Keefe 90).

Employees are not ranked using one aspect of their job, but by every activity that they involve themselves in within the organization. Employees also receive consistent feedback about their performance, and thus biasness is eliminated.

In a bid to avoid unethical conduct in the employee appraisal, a variety of staffing measurements should be adopted. Several supervisors should also do appraisals and compare their results.

It is unethical to make appraisal errors during staffing measurement

Errors made during employee appraisal can result in wrong actions; for instance, the wrong employee may be promoted, a non-deserving employee may be laid off, while another mistaken employee may receive unworthy praise and a pay rise.

Untrue results may also misguide the entire organization on training needs, which may make some useful strategies to be abolished before maturity. Therefore, it is unethical to encourage errors in staffing measurement (Bohlander and Snell 228). Errors may come from unethical practices like a bad relationship between an employee and his/her supervisor.

The supervisor errors in giving such an employee low rates considering their bad relationship. The results that such a supervisor gives are erroneous and unethical. It is also unethical for a supervisor to be very lenient and offer high rates to an employee who does not deserve the same.

For instance, forgiving supervisors who allow employees to get away with errors, mistakes, and bad performance enhance unethical staffing measurement. The same supervisor may not forgive all employees who commit similar mistakes.

Comparison of these employees with employees under a strict supervisor underscores unfairness hence it becomes an unethical practice. All employees should be rated under similar circumstances to ensure equality and fairness. Leniency only serves to enhance unfair appraisal behavior.

Another error in practice of staffing measurement is the rating of all employees towards a common central rank. Use of central tendency in the employee appraisal makes the evaluator pull the performance of different employees towards a middle figure.

Appraising employees using the central tendency is erroneous as the performance of better employees is equated with average employees, while that of below average performers is pulled towards average, and thus employees may never know their actual performance. Unfairness in distribution of marks and scores is an unethical practice in staffing measurement (Ployhart et al. 308).

Employees should get their rightful results since reward and punishment depends on the performance. No employee should miss his/her rightful reward because the appraiser pulled his or her performance towards an average tendency. Another common error that promotes unethical behavior in staffing measurement is rating employees based on the most recent occurrence or event.

Employees should be rated by cumulative performances over a long period. The approach that an employee may give to one event may be different from the way s/he behaves in another event. Use of recent events enhances errors in appraisal, and thus a good performer may be wrongly be classified as a poor performer.

In the same way, a good performer may be punished or laid off while a poor performer is rewarded with a job promotion or salary hike. The psychological condition of an employee on a particular day may alter his/her motivation, emotions, and energy, and thus evaluating an employee on such day may yield low results than in other days.

Therefore, it is necessary to carryout continuous evaluation rather than basing the performance of an employee on the outcome of one-day performance.

Another erroneous way of appraising employees is the halo effect. Adoption of the halo effect in staffing measurement makes the appraising team or manager rank all employees based on a positive trait. The halo effect makes the employer rank all behaviors in relation to one positive trait that s/he witnessed earlier.

The fact that an employee depicted a positive trait one day should not be a reason to rate all his or her other behaviors as positive. It is erroneous to adopt the halo effect in the employee appraisal.

The halo effect allows managers to give erroneous credit/high scores to employees who do not deserve the same, and thus the result of this aspect is that an employee who only depicted a positive trait at one point is rated as a high performer of all times (Torrington and Hall 118). On the other hand, an employee who depicted a negative trait on one occasion may be rated as a poor performer due to the Halo effect.

Discrimination is unethical in staffing measurement

Staffing measurement should not be the basis of discrimination of some employees. It is unethical to “use the standards of staffing measurement to discriminate against employees based on gender, disability, race, or conditions like pregnancy” (Guion 87). The measurement standards and methods that managers and employers use for appraisal should be accommodative to all levels of employee.

Therefore, it is important to standardize the methods and parameters of measurement. The United States’ Civil Rights Act of 1991 dictates that employee appraisal systems should consider the rights of minorities in an organization. Discrimination arises when a non bona fide staffing measurement is applied, thus resulting in bias and unfairness (Guion 92).

Discrimination of protected classes of people, for example people with disabilities, adverse health conditions, and women is illegal and unethical. The management team should not initiate an appraisal method with an ill motive of discriminating some class or group of employees in a company. Every employee should be in a position to express him/herself through the given method of appraisal.

For instance, it is unethical for the organization to use a method that requires sharp sight to observe reactions of some kind on shortsighted employees. This aspect will be unethical and illegal. The method of appraisal adopted by the appraisal team should offer room for fair competition amongst employees of all types.

Lack of Fair warning on the consequences of appraisal on employees is unethical

In some instances, employers may implement their own plans based on the employees’ performance. It is unethical to make employee victims of actions based on their poor or high performance without prior information about the same. Communication is important in staffing measurement.

Employee should be informed of the consequences of performance appraisal even before the management begins the process of evaluation (Pell 248). The outcome performance may be related to the source of motivation behind an individual. Employees may thus perform well or badly due to the presence or absence of information on the consequences of performance.

It is unethical to make employees suffer the consequence of what they do not know. The method of appraisal applied to evaluate employees should also be involving. Employee should know that they are being evaluated and that evaluation results will lead to a particular line of consequence.

As managers and employers release the appraisal results, it is also ethical that they inform the employees of the consequence of repeating a given behavior. For example, an employee who performs dismally should be informed of the consequence that he or she will face if he or she does not improve his performance further.

It is illegal and unethical to demote or lay off employees based on repeated poor performance without warning. Employees should also be warned of their dismal performance in the course of evaluation to enable them improve or avoid poor performance (Pell 260). Warning on consequences of poor performance should be spelt out clearly in a way that makes all employees in an organization understand it.

It is unethical to conceal the results of staffing measurement from employees. Employees should clearly understand their performance and the improvements that they can make on it, which can be done through fair warning about poor performance.

Trained managers/ evaluators should do staffing measurement

Professionalism in conduct of human resource management is essential when carrying out staffing measurement. It is unethical to use untrained persons to evaluate employees on certain matters. Evaluation and evaluation methods require people who implement them to be professionals in their field of evaluation.

For example, an evaluator who does not understand how to apply a particular method of appraisal will make errors hence making the entire process unfair. Managers that are trained on matters of human resource and evaluation are also likely to be keen observers of both ethical and legal implications of their behavior (Pandey 164).

On the other hand, non-professional evaluators are likely to care less about the consequences of illegal and unfair conduct in evaluation. Employers and managers who undertake performance appraisal should be trained on various facets of evaluation. For example, the evaluators should be trained to accept diversity in the workplace.

The evaluators should also be trained that it is unethical to base the performance of an employee by personal relationships or a particular incident. Managers with unstable emotions are also supposed to be trained on how to deal with diverse personalities in the work place. The managers should also be trained on how to apply various methods of staffing measurement in ensuring fairness, openness, and transparency.

Employees under performance appraisal should also be trained on the various methods of performance appraisal coupled with how the entire process is conducted. Employees should know how scores are awarded in various methods of appraisal.

It is also unethical for an organization to adopt an appraisal method that the employees do not understand. Additionally, employees should be informed about the method of appraisal that their organization will adopt for a certain season and the consequences of the results.

Corporate governance measures to prevent unethical practices in staffing measurement

In order to mitigate the unethical practices of adopting the wrong methods of appraisal, organizations need to make the right choice of appraisal method. Organizations are thus adopting standardized measurement appraisal, and thus they have turned to trait-focused appraisal methods. The adoption of trait-focused appraisal methods will enable organizations to focus on employee behavior.

Organizations will thus prevent unethical appraisal methods by ensuring that employees are assessed based on their punctuality, dependability, and usefulness. Use of trait-based appraisal method is also checked by ensuring that more than one evaluator carry out staffing measurement. Use of various evaluators to evaluate the performance of employees ensures reduced biasness.

Unethical practice of employee appraisal is also enhanced by unstructured staffing measurement. In order to prevent this scenario, corporate governance ensures that unstructured methods depend on various evaluators. The description of performance, which is unethically given by one evaluator, should be given by more than one evaluator to ensure fairness.

Cases of one evaluator unethically giving biased, negative, or wrong report about an employee are minimized. Mitigation measures have also been applied on straight ranking method. Since the method depends on rating of one employee with another, ethics are ensured by ensuring the use of proper parameters for rating employees. Use of numerical scale ensures less unethical practices in the adopted evaluation methods.

Ethical considerations in governance on matters of staffing measurement have also resulted in the adoption of Behaviorally Anchored Rating (BARS). These methods of staffing appraisal ensure that evaluators use graphic rating, which has little or no gaps for errors and discrimination. Use of BARS ensures the use of rating scales for behavior-anchored appraisal methods.

The scale gives little room for errors. Use of mixed standard rating also ensures that the evaluators make use of mixed standards rating scales. This method enhances ethical behavior in staffing measurement since it is based on numbers. Corporate governance should thus advocate for measurable evaluation methods in a bid to ensure that unethical methods of evaluation are minimized.

Mitigation of appraisal errors in corporate governance is also ensured through elimination of bad relations among employees. Unethical practices in employee appraisal emerge from poor communication between supervisors and employees. Corporations should thus ensure that there is teamwork among employees, hence fairness in evaluation.

Leniency, which results in erroneous evaluation, leads to unethical appraisal results. In order to prevent leniency from interfering with staffing measurement, companies should adopt standardized methods of employee appraisal that allow no room for leniency or emotions.

Employees should also be involved in setting up the methods of evaluation that they want for themselves. The adoption of management by objective (MBO) will ensure minimized unethical conduct in staffing measurement.

Discrimination that results in unethical practices of awarding scores based on color, race, gender, or class should be mitigated. Appraisal teams should be trained on how to accept and appreciate diversity in the workplace. Training of evaluators on how to use standardized parameters of staffing measurement will ensure level ground for appraisal.

Use of untrained evaluators in the process of staffing measurement is one of the major causes of unethical conduct. Training of evaluators on how to conduct performance appraisal will ensure that employee appraisal is professional and it is based on ethical standards.


Employee appraisal is an essential undertaking that organizations undertake in their efforts to evaluate staff members. In the process of staffing measurement, the appraising team should ensure that ethical considerations of appraisal are put in place during the process. In appraisals, ethics require the appraisal team to do what is right and morally acceptable in standards of work.

Various issues may make staffing measurement unethical and these aspects include adoption of unethical methods of staff appraisal, making appraisal errors during staffing measurement, discrimination based on color, gender, race, disability, lack of fair warning on the consequences of appraisal, and use of untrained managers and appraisal managers.

In a bid to eliminate ethical errors, managers and other governance authorities in an organization should ensure that staffing measurement is both right and acceptable. The method of evaluation that the organization and the evaluation team adopt should be right and clear to the employees. The management should also understand how to apply the method.

Employees should be warned of the consequences of poor performance and repetition of low performance. The management should also ensure that the appraisal team is trained on matters of employee appraisal and that there is no discrimination of any kind during the whole process.

Therefore, it is important for every organization to adopt ethical staffing measurement. In a recap, the preferred method of staffing measurement should be fair and unbiased as such elements form the backbone of effective staffing measurement tool.

Works Cited

Bohlander, George, and Scott Snell. Managing Human Resources, Mason: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

Compton, Richard, William Morrissey, Alan Nankervis, and Bill Morrissey. Effective Recruitment and Selection Practices, Melbourne: CCH Australia Limited, 2009. Print.

Ferris, Gina, Gerald Ferris, and Joseph Martocchio. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2002. Print.

Guion, Robert. Assessment, Measurement, and Prediction for Personnel Decisions, Oxford: Taylor & Francis, 2011. Print.

Heneman, Herbert, Robert Heneman, and Tim Judge. Staffing Organizations, New York: Mendota House, Inc., 1997. Print.

Pandey, Ashish. Staffing Management, New Delhi: Global Vision Publishing House, 2006. Print.

Pell, Arthur. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Recruiting the Right Stuff, Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2000. Print.

Ployhart, Robert, Benjamin Scheider, and Neil Schmitt. Staffing Organizations: Contemporary Practice and Theory, Hillside: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2006. Print.

Sandler, Corey, and Janice Keefe. Performance Appraisal Phrase Book: The Best Words, Phrases, and Techniques for Performance Reviews, Avon: Adams Media, 2004. Print.

Torrington, Derek, and Laura Hall. Human Resource Management, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

Whetzel, Deborah, and George Wheaton. Applied Measurement: Industrial Psychology in Human Resources Management, Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2007. Print.

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