Side-stepping Conflict of Interest at the office

One of the primary reasons why people seek employment is to support the basic economic functions they need to perform.

Some desire a consistent source of income to assist in the upkeep of a family; others need money to acquire basic necessities in life, but all in all, a form of employment serves both needs for many.

Once at the workplace, the employee is tasked with duties that aid in the progress of work, and this effort is appropriately rewarded at the end of the month or any other pre – arranged time frame.

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Under normal circumstances, the terms of remuneration are explicitly discussed prior to the commencement of duties, hence one knows what to expect when time is due for payment.

With such a mechanism in place, the employee, deemed to be appropriately remunerated as per rank and other factors, is expected to exhibit characteristics that would ensure the promotion of integrity at the workplace, and one setback to this line of action is a typical conflict of interest situation one may find him or herself in.

Conflict of interest (COI) is simply the blurring of the line between what is personal and what is professional in the execution of duties.

This arises when there is a tendency for the promotion of personal interests either at the workplace or in the line of duties or both.

The employee; before, during or after employment may be linked to other instances that may corrode the quality of input at the workplace.

COI appears in three forms: Actual, Apparent or Potential. Actual COI refers to a real or existing case where the employee finds him or herself embroiled in cases like nepotism that may affect the quality of decisions at the workplace.

Apparent COI creates the impression that there is the likelihood of a typical COI situation, though it may not have actually happened yet.

Potential COI relates to the existence of private benefits that may create opportunities for COI if the employee in question decides to take advantage of the situation for private benefit, but it may not have happened yet.

COI situations often arise because the individual appears to be trapped between two opposing decisions of either professionally executing pre–assigned duties or bending low to serve a personal gain.

This relates to workers in both private and public enterprises as they both have various opportunities to bend their actions to serve personal interests that may arise in the line of duties. Several examples of COI exist, and outlined below are a few of them:

a. Using official advantages or opportunities for private gains

b. Using confidential information for the promotion of personal interests

c. Using one’s official capacity to influence the decisions of co – workers in a bid to realize personal gains

d. Either using or allowing the use of public property for private gains.

e. Soliciting for, and or accepting gifts that may influence decisions to be made in official capacities.

The official duties required to be performed at the workplace are separate and distinct from private activities that may direct some forms of benefits to the worker.

And this behooves on all and sundry to ensure that any act or set of activities that would negatively affect official duties to be carried out are done away with, as the provisions of employment did not create room for such private activities.

COI is so real and prevalent in several business units, both private and public, and it is in that regard that caution should be exercised wherever one is engaged ion in work, lest the unexpected occurs.

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