From a professional standpoint, the idea of utilitarianism is that the when you conduct yourself in a correct manner, you’ll create professional happiness. It creates a black and white division between what is morally correct and what is morally wrong. By choosing the morally correct choice each time, your happiness will improve. Choose something morally wrong, even if it is legally correct, and your overall happiness will decrease.
Do Unto Others First
The basic rule of workplace utilitarianism is that you should do unto others first what you’d like to have others do unto you. This means that if you want a workplace environment that you find happy and meaningful, then you need to first work hard to establish the same thing for your co-workers. In order to do this, you must hold accountable the immoral or unethical workers within your working environment so that everyone, not just you, can benefit from the improved atmosphere.
This can be done through two distinct methods: rules or action.
Rules Utilitarianism Focuses on Fairness
There’s always complaints about circumstances at work being unfair, but how do you truly define fairness over a wide range of differing responsibilities? You do so by giving everyone the same chance to succeed initially. When everyone starts from a level playing field, then everyone starts at the same point. Where someone ends up might be completely different and it might seem unfair to them if it’s a negative finishing point, but they started with the same chances. Having rules in place to encourage this is what rules utilitarianism is.
Utilitarianism through actions, however, is much different. Instead of relying on the rules to give everyone the same initial opportunities, you’re working hard to bring this level of fairness to others through your daily activities. You’re choosing what is ethical and moral through your actions because the outcome is more than just a means to an end. It’s about giving people a more developed sense of self through an established fairness.
What Are the Limitations of Workplace Utilitarianism?
There is really one basic limitation to workplace utilitarianism and that it is difficult to achieve. When you go to work, do you really want to work for others before yourself? Isn’t it important to bring home a guaranteed paycheck so that groceries can be on the table for your family every day? The focus on self is ingrained into the modern workplace because putting someone’s needs in front of your own could make it so that others run right over top of you!
Because there are no checks and balances on ethics or morality in many workplaces, utilitarianism will always remain difficult to achieve. Despite this fact, however, you can still take actions on your own to create a better level of fairness in your own little sphere of influence. By working from an ethical and moral standpoint, people will gravitate to you eventually. Keep working hard and you’ll create the working environment you want!