Your brother-in-law manages a hotel in a city where your company’s annual board meeting is being held. Even though it would be more expensive for you to book the executives at this hotel, your brother-in-law promises to “make it worth your while” to send the executives there.
One of the hallmarks of an ethical workplace, according to SHRM’s 2013 Shaping an Ethical Workplace Culture Report, is that “employees, regardless of rank or role, put the work at hand and the interests of others above themselves.” It may seem obvious that strong ethics are essential to a successful business and striving for a values-based workplace is a must, but even the most trustworthy employees aren’t exempt from the temptation to “bend the rules” every once in a while – particularly with the promise of personal gain.
There will always be ethical “gray areas” despite the thoroughness of the employee handbook. In the example above, you may not be breaking a written rule by accepting your brother-in-law’s offer, but you are taking the risk of irreversibly damaging your reputation once the truth comes out. Your actions would demonstrate that you find it acceptable to use your position to benefit yourself at the company’s expense.
As an administrative professional entrusted to make accommodation decisions for your supervisors, the last thing you want to do is breach that trust by making a choice based on anything other than the company’s best interest. You could cover it up as a random selection at first, but there’s a good chance that once costs are reviewed you’ll have to explain why you booked them at an expensive place when other acceptable and more frugal options were available.
Don’t let your brother-in-law’s proposal to “make it worth your while” cloud your decision making. Your loyalty to your employer must come first in this situation because you are using company resources. You have your employee “hat” on when managing your supervisors’ accommodations, not your in-law “hat.” Even if there are legitimate reasons to go with your family member’s hotel (better location, rooms, meeting spaces, amenities, etc.), discuss it with your managers first and be upfront about your connection. Your employer may end up being enthusiastic about supporting your family member, but it should be their choice in the end if added costs are involved.
SHRM Foundation— Shaping an Ethical Workplace Culture