Question

Valerie Castonguy, Director of HR at Greenleaf Inc., sat at the...

Valerie Castonguy, Director of HR at Greenleaf Inc., sat at the conference table looking at her team. She had called the meeting to discuss what interventions they could implement to improve the situation at the company. It had been a long year and many employees seemed to be on the verge of burnout, if not already there. Some recent mistakes had resulted in faulty products being shipped to customers and the production department was raising alarms about the costs of replacements.

Managers at the company were also on edge, and there had been numerous complaints about managers yelling at the employees, demeaning their work, and ignoring requests for help when employees returned from sick leave. 

Valerie had brought her team together to find solutions to this well-being problem. Ronald suggested they implement a mindfulness training program because he had read scientific studies showing that being mindful (i.e., focusing your awareness on the present moment, and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations) had many health benefits. The training took about eight weeks, and Ronald argued that the increased health had the potential to substantially reduce the number of people taking sick days.

Amara wasn't convinced. She had also read some research on mindfulness, and it showed that when people were mindful in the context of negative experiences, it could be detrimental to their well-being. By encouraging people to be in the moment, mindfulness could lead individuals to become fixated on negative experiences, like their supervisor yelling at them, making them even more stressed. Given the present climate at the company, Amara was worried that mindfulness would exacerbate an already tense situation. 

Ronald did not agree. He felt that learning to focus on the now would improve the mental health of the employees, and would have the added benefit of helping employees to compartmentalize their lives. They would learn to leave their personal troubles outside the office, and to leave their office troubles at the workplace. He reasoned that the increased focus would lead to fewer errors.

Amara still wasn't sure. She pointed out that, in order to train everyone, Greenleaf would have to cover their wages when they weren't actually working, which would be an additional cost, and she couldn't shake the feeling that the training would just make things worse and might not address the complaints that employees had raised about the managers, or the production problems.

At that point, Valerie interjected: "I hear what you are saying Amara, but the status quo is not sustainable. Replacing everyone who goes on sick leave is adding an extra 5% to our labour costs, and replacing faulty products is adding 5% to our operating costs. We can't keep accepting these losses. I know the outcome of the mindfulness training is uncertain, and there's a chance it could make our costs go up even more, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. I've made my decision. Let's make the training happen."

QUESTION

Apply the concept of ethics to Valerie's decision to implement the mindfulness training program at Greenleaf Inc., and explain how the decision-making concepts under the textbook heading of "Risky Business" could have influenced whether Valerie made an ethical decision. In your answer, be sure to provide a rationale as to why you think Valerie's decision was ethical or not, and make sure to include a word count with your answer.

Answer & Explanation
Verified Solved by verified expert

Kindly see answer below.

Step-by-step explanation

Greenleaf Inc. is definitely in a current challenging moment. Several concerns are rising and clearly this is affecting not only the employees who have to avail of sick leaves, and to making mistakes in production, to Managers yelling at their.employees., etc. Thus there's a need to come up with measures to put an end to this hard and trying times.

Valerie Castonguy, Director of HR at Greenleaf Inc., acted promptly by calling a meeting with her team to come up with appropriate means to bring back the glory of Greenleaf. This is where the conflict of ideas came up between Ronald and Amara, both insisting that their ideas are the most appropriate one. Valerie then interjected.

The argument made valerie exercise her authority as the HR Director. She listened to both, before deciding on what for her will be the better solution and she took responsibility of her decisions.

For me, Valerie's decision was quite a rush. There was only one scenario presented and that's it. A better way could have been letting the others air out their views, discuss the pros and cons of each before deciding on moving on with the mindfulness training.

Valerie showed her concern for the company, and respected the ideas of her team by listening to it. There was certainly a cause for alarm in the company. Valerie should have remained composed and maintain command of her emotions so that her decision could have been more impactful for everyone.  She herself could have suggested some activities such as team building seminars, bootcamps, company beach holiday, conducting outreach programs or sports festival to be able to put a break to the work demands that is pulling everyone down. This 3 - 5 day activities are more cost effective than the 8 week mindfulness training.

Relating Valerie's decision to the book "Risky Business",  she knows the risk involved with her decision to go on with the mindfulness training. She was somewhat taking the decision as a choice between 2 losses because.of the uncertainties that it presents. There was no guarantee of a successful outcome, or a failure. As the book says, the role of risk in decision making demonstrates the power of framing. Valerie obviously was not in the right frame when she made the decision. The pressure from the unhealthy environment their company is in currently made her desperate for answers, and leading to probably a wrong choice. If she just solicited more ideas, then there could have been better alternatives, such that she will be faced with a choice between gains, and that could have made her decide for a sure win.

Yes this was an unethical decision. She was carried away by her feeling of desperation, citing that she's aware that labour and operating costs might go up and that the uncertainy of the training might not be effective at all. Her decision was of a high risk, low reward  scenario which is not obviously a favorable choice for the company. As what the book shared, right framework leads to a sure win in the end. Conservative decisions are carefully processed and executed leading to ethical decisions. Valerie unfortunately failed to deliver on this.