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Business Ethics Sink or Swim in Floods
(January 2011)The floods in Queensland last week caused immense damage to numerous properties and infrastructure, with people losing homes, belongings, and loved ones. The community spirit demonstrated by vast numbers of Queenslanders both at the time of the disaster, and in the subsequent clean-up, has shown how powerful a community can be when people pull together.
When the river began to rise did your workplace become a hero or a villain?
How a business responds in times of crisis can be an indicator as to the ethics that underpin the culture and environment of that workplace. Many businesses were forced to close due to premises flooding, or workers being unable to get there. Of these businesses, the majority worked through these conditions as best they could - allowing stranded workers to have paid time off, demonstrating compassion to workers affected by the floods, and closing premises to ensure no one was stranded at work when the flood was predicted to be highest.
However, this was not the case for all businesses. There were those who insisted that stranded workers forfeit holiday or pay, those that showed little to no tolerance of someone being unable to come to work, and those who refused to shut up shop even when it meant that workers ran a risk of being stranded at work, or driving in dangerous conditions.
Small businesses cannot always afford the financial burden of an absent workforce - whatever the cause. However, a business that values the people working for it will always treat their safety with the utmost regard. For a business to treat workers with a lack of compassion at this time also demonstrates a short-term approach, as dissatisfied workers will vote with their feet.
Queensland has a long road ahead in terms of cleaning up and recovery. We would urge all businesses to show tolerance and understanding for those workers affected by the floods. A business cannot exist without the people who work for it. Support those people, and you build a team striving to hit mutual goals. Let them down, and your real business values become very transparent to all.