The Relevance Immanuel Kant’s ‘Categorical Imperatives’ in the Revival of Work Ethics In Workplaces

(Last Updated On: May 1, 2018)

Without any iota of exaggeration, a critical survey of the extent to which work ethics are applied in workplace will validate the fact that work ethics are either dead or dying. In other words the issue of employee dedication, honesty, integrity, loyalty, fairness, accountability, etc., have not only been neglected but have also become as far-fetch as the tale of a unicorn.

In realization of this, many organizations have resorted to buying Fidelity Guaratee Insurance. Fidelity Guarantee Insurance is an insurance against the results of dishonesty or disloyalty both of which stem from a lack of fidelity. It may be effected by any organization or person who may suffer as the result of the dishonesty, failure in the loyal performance of a duty or, in certain cases, the mistake of another. In general, the coverage protects an employer against the loss of money, securities, or other property as a result of a dishonest act on the part of the bonded or guaranteed employee.

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 By way of inference, it can be argued that the patronage and subscription for Fidelity Guarantee Insurance by employers substantiate the claim that there is a gross violation of work ethics in workplace. In other words, employee infidelity is prevalent in workplace. In a bid to lend weight to this claim, Ngwuta posits that:

“It is estimated that employers in Nigeria lose in excess of over N4 million annually through employee’s dishonesty.”

The point we are making is that the extent to which work ethics are applied in workplace is very minute and infinitesimal; there are many cases of employee infidelity.

A lot of factors have been claimed to be the cause of employee infidelity in workplace. Ngwuta, for instance, is of the view that:

“the underlying reason for dishonesty are complex and manifold, but human weakness of one kind or another, coupled with opportunity, accounts for most cases.”

On our part, we opine that failure of employees to perform their duties to employees is the major cause of employee dishonesty and the demise of work ethics in workplaces.

It is against this background that we seek to bring out the relevance of Immanuel Kant‘s Categorical Imperatives in resuscitating work ethics in workplaces. Since every action stimulates an appropriate response, when there is proper human resource management employees will follow suits by carrying out their own duties in adherence to work ethics. The unconditional nature of Kant’s Categorical Imperative compels employers to discharge their duties to employees. The first formulation of Kantian Categorical Imperative says:

“Act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”

While the second formulation says:

“Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.”

Therefore our thesis in this essay is that employers’ practice of these Kantian formulations and recommendations will trigger and instigate the adherence to work ethics on the part of the employees which will, as a matter of consequence, enhance productivity, creativity, and innovation. This is how Kant’s Categorical Imperatives are relevant in the resuscitation of work ethics in workplaces.

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