Do individuals making staffing decisions have an ethical responsibility to know measurement issues related to human resources?

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Yes, hiring managers should be collaborating with human resources staff to determine the performance measurements used for each position in the company. Performance measurements typically determine an employee’s monetary raise, eligibility for advancement or promotion, and could ultimately result in termination of employment if the specific measurement standards are not met.

As managers hire individuals, the performance measurement expectations should be explicitly shared with the employee. Managers who fail to communicate the measurement standards to employees who are later terminated based on these measurements face the possibility of an unlawful termination lawsuit.

Additionally the subjective nature of most human resources measurements require the input from the supervising manager. Documentation on the measurement standards should be kept by the manager to support any termination decision. This information would become invaluable in a lawsuit.

Ultimately the ethical and legal route for managers making staffing decisions is to share any performance measurement expectations with staff members as soon as they begin employment.

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While this issue is, in a way, a matter of personal opinion, I would argue that people making staffing decisions do have an ethical responsibility to know about issues that pertain to measurement in human resources.  If they do not, they are more likely to implement policies that have discriminatory impacts.

In the field of human resources management, it is hard to properly measure many things.  It is hard to, for example, know what things can be measured to tell whether a person will be a good fit for a certain job.  It is also hard to know how to measure those things in a way that is objective and fair.

If HR decision-makers are not aware of these issues, they are more likely to make decisions that will be unfair.  They are more likely to implement policies that will not really test whether an applicant is good for a job.  These policies might end up measuring things that are not important and rejecting applicants who could be good workers.

These decision-makers therefore have an ethical responsibility to be aware of these issues.  This is true because they have an ethical duty to, insofar as they can, make sure that they are treating all applicants fairly.

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