Board game reviews, news and commentary.
Ethics On The Job
Thrift Sift
Updated: Thursday, Oct 30, 2014
Good afternoon fellow executives, shareholders, and employees of Renquist Analong Entertainment Studios. My name is Obadiah Renquist-Hill. As president and CEO of this multinational board game entertainment conglomerate, I know first hand the importance of finding the right employees. Because finding the right employees means that they can deal with each other’s problems, leaving more time for me to do whatever it is that I do here.

And an integral part of that training is the Ethics On The Job board game. Published in 1998, it still holds nuggets of wisdom that I use to train my employees on the do’s and don’t of ethical behavior in the workplace. Furthermore, it negates the need for me to actually speak with them directly.

That’s why Pair Of Dice Paradise has asked me here today, to contribute my corporate wisdom in this episode of Thrift Sift, the series that examines board games that Chaz picks up at thrift stores because they look interesting, bizarre, or a combination of both.

So join me in this on-the-job training seminar, as I teach ya’ll 1998’s Ethics On The Job board game, where your employees have fun while they learn standards for ethical behavior on the job. Because the only thing employees enjoy more than going to work is playing a game in their spare time where they recreate workplace issues. It’s Ethics On The Job, today on Thrift Sift.

Now, you may not realize this, but company presidents like me have to make many difficult decisions every day -- heh, heh, heh, I’m just kidding, that’s why we have HR departments. Some of the most difficult duties that someone that I’ve hired to hire someone to hire someone to hire someone in HR has, are disciplining non-executive-level employees who have acted unethically.

In Ethics On The Job, each player takes on the role of the president of his or her own company, and earns money by handling a series of moral dilemmas wisely. Yes, demonstrating the importance of ethics to your employees by offering them monetary rewards is an excellent idea, because you know what they say, the love of money is the root of all kinds of ethical behavior.

To prepare a game of Ethics On The Job in order to brainwash, er, teach your employees, first set up its components: one game board, one deck of yellow sample situation cards, several blue sample situation cards, a stack of employee cards, one die, six pawns and a stack of cold, hard, brightly colored photocopied cash.

Each of your pawns, er employees, should choose a pawn and place them on the Start space. Players should now choose a banker, who will pass out $3,000 to each player. As in real life, the banker absolutely should not manipulate the rules of the game to receive any extra money, bonuses or dividends; in any way that would leave a paper trail… uh, because that would be “unethical”?

Next, several employee cards are dealt to each player. Each one represents a fictitious employee that works for you at your company at the start of the game. Players should place their own employee cards in front of them, with the names facing up. This is your staff of underlings.

Put the rest of the employee cards on the game board square marked “Expendable”, er, “Unemployed”, with the names facing down. The employees in the Unemployed pile are not working for any of the players.

Next, after placing the Situation cards on the corresponding space on the game board, the players are ready to learn workplace ethics the fun way.

On their turn, the player rolls the die and moves that many spaces clockwise. Moving counterclockwise would be gravely unethical, so don’t even think about it.

When a player lands on a Pick A Situation Card space, they pick the top card of the Situation deck. The card will describe a horrible thing that one of your employees was dumb enough to get caught doing. They read the ethical workplace dilemma printed on the card aloud to the other players, and then decide whether the employee’s action described on the card is either ethical or unethical.

After reading the Situation card and announcing their decision on the employee’s fate aloud, the player turns the card over and reads the actual answer. If the question was answered correctly, then the player collects $2,000. Thus teaching the would-be CEOs the important lesson that there’s substantial financial gain to be made at the corporate level for simply doing your job competently.

Let’s take a look at some of the ethical dilemmas caused by your employees that you will have to resolve:

Employee: Erin
Ethical dilemma: Erin asked her supervisor if he would go on a date to a movie with her.
Answer: Unethical. Dating a supervisor creates a tricky situation. Raises and promotions could be affected.

Employee: Meg
Ethical dilemma: Meg is a supervisor. She asked Edward, an employee in her department, out on a date.
Answer: Unethical. It is wrong to date people who work for you.

Employee: Stan
Ethical dilemma: During lunch break, Stan invited Wendy, a co-worker, to come over to his apartment after work.
Answer: Ethical. There is nothing wrong with socializing with co-workers.

As we can infer from these three examples, the takeaway lesson here on inter-office relationships appears to be to make sure that you are male, and just don’t call it a date. Problem solved.

Alright, so since the ethical employee abstains from human interaction in the workplace, in what other portions of their workday can they find joy? Plenty! Corporate life is full of little completely ethical perks that can brighten your day. For example:

Employee: Erin
Ethical dilemma: Erin decides which telephone company to use for long distance service. The telephone company sent her a one pound box of candy with a “Happy Holidays” card. Erin kept the candy.
Answer: Ethical. Most companies permit employees to accept small gifts from suppliers.

Employee: Sally
Ethical dilemma: Sally decides which telephone company to use for long distance service. The telephone company sent her a hundred dollar bill with a “Happy Holidays” card. Sally kept the hundred dollars.
Answer: Unethical. It is unethical to keep a large gift from a supplier.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Small gifts are okay, but large ones are not. True, what constitutes “large” may be completely subjective, as the average CEO earns $100 in 14 minutes, making it as valuable a gift to me as, say, a box of chocolates would be. But that’s not what’s important here, because $100 to Sally is a lot more valuable, so while I could probably justify keeping such a gift for myself, it looks to be a no-go for plebeians.

As for what defines what makes a small vs. large gift, neither I nor the game are going to tell you. Speaking of giving gifts to deserving people, let’s continue to our last examples:

Employee: Gary
Ethical dilemma: Gary tries to make friends out of his supervisors, by suggesting they go to ball games, out to lunch and things like that.
Answer: Ethical. It is okay to try to make friends with your supervisor.

Employee: Aileen
Ethical dilemma: Aileen is a really good writer. Her supervisor asked her if she would help her with a paper that she was doing at night school. Aileen helped her.
Answer: Ethical. It is okay to do a supervisor a personal favor such as this, so long as nothing is offered or expected in return. (Just do it for free!)

Employee: Stan
Ethical dilemma: Stan sent Meg, his boss, some flowers for her birthday.
Answer: Ethical. It is okay to send your boss an inexpensive present.

So remember, my employees, it is completely ethical, to make friends with, do personal favors for, and shower inexpensive gifts upon, your supervisor. And remember what we just learned about relative value due to the differences in our salaries. What’s expensive to you, I would probably consider to be inexpensive.

If the character from the card was employed by a player, then that employer makes a decision regarding whether to punish the employee for their alleged unethical behavior and what punishment to give. The card will list several options from which the employer can choose from, which will vary, depending on the severity of the unethical behavior. Reprimanding options include: overlook the offense, issue a final warning, termination, and prison. Yeah, prison! Employers in this game are given the authority to completely bypass due process and send their problem employees directly to prison. Maybe next time you’ll think twice about letting that extra box of paper clips follow you home.

If the employer overlooks the offense, then it means that the employee is probably their nephew.

If the employee receives a final warning, then place that employee’s card in the corresponding Final Warning space on the board.

If the employee is fired, then the player plus the employees card on the bottom of the unemployed pile. But don’t worry about being short staffed. Simply replace the fired employee by picking the top card of the unemployed worker pile and adding them to your staff. Note: if picking the next available warm body in line is the actual stringent hiring process that your company uses, then I may have just figured out why you keep ending up with problem employees that you ultimately have to fire.

Players take turns rolling the die, moving, and resolving the ethical issues that arise on their turn. Play continues until the person in charge says that time is up. Demonstrating one last time just how good it is to be the boss.

When the game ends, scores are calculated. Is the winner the player who had the fewest ethical dilemmas, or made the highest percentage of correct ethical decisions, or kept the most employees out of prison? No, don’t be a stupid moron, dummy. You’re playing the part of a corporate CEO, so the winner is the one who ends up with the most money, moo-lah, cold, hard, brightly colored photocopied currency. And, since that’s the case, then no matter how well you perform, the real winner is probably still going to be the actual CEO who’s forcing you to play this game while he makes 300 times your salary.

Oddly enough, I don’t see any cards here that address that particular questionable practice, so it must be completely ethical! Sound like a royal pain in the assets? Well, now you’re getting the hang of Ethics on the Job.
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