Loyalty in the Workplace

Today I realized that two of my classes dramatically overlapped with what they were teaching me. In one of my PR classes, I’ve recently learned how to handle crisis communication and how to handle conflicting loyalties. In my ethics class I saw a very different side of the coin. To help better explain myself, I’ll present a version of the scenario I was presented with in both classes.

You work as a public relations representative for a large company. The head of the company confronts you with news that the branch you are working in will be shutting down soon. Your superiors assure you that your position will be safe and that a promotion could even be in your future, but you must not disclose any of the information presented to you.

So what do you do? Tell your co-workers so they can start looking for new jobs? Keep your mouth shut? The answers I found were as follows:

PR Class: It is not your place to tell, because as a PR person, your loyalty lies within the company. If you choose to tell this information, you must be prepared to resign from your position.

Ethics Class: If you don’t tell, you must live with the fact that you may have helped your co-workers find jobs, had you told. By telling you risk losing your job or at best, the promotion. Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always beneficial to you.

These two answers are clearly conflicting with one another. However I have learned a few things I can do to help with this dilemma. The first thing to do is thoroughly research the company you are about to join. Make sure they don’t have any red flags, such as previous employment disputes or issues. The second thing is to make sure your superiors know how you feel about situations just like this one. Chances are they’ll respect your stance and may realize disclosing such information to you in the future may push you away. The last thing you can always do is quit. It’s not a great choice, but it could possibly aid in the raising of a red flag and possibly attract the necessary attention that you, as an employee, couldn’t produce.

Let me know what you think or what you would do. Comments are always encouraged!

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