Jennette Ballas and Aliza Elbert

Dilemma: Over the summer I had an internship with a San Luis grocery store. I figured out that if I clocked out 7 minutes before my assigned shift ended, I would get paid for the whole shift. If the company’s policy is to round up, is it wrong of me to take advantage of that policy? – Trevor

We can relate to where you’re coming from; Aliza had an internship that would start at 8 a.m. on Saturdays which followed crazy nights of dancing at Mother’s, drinking lemon drops and mingling with close friends. As the late afternoon approached and the clock slowly ticked towards 4:30 pm, she couldn’t help but fantasize about how comfortable her bed was. All she wanted to do was cut out early and nap for a few hours after those long nights, which seemed to be followed by even longer workdays. I mean, wouldn’t you want the same?

Back to your situation Trevor, it was no act of magic that you were paid for un-worked minutes. Rather, it was a standard company policy. Although management may not have approached you, this doesn’t mean what you did was acceptable behavior. Although it’s only 7 free minutes, consider all of the things you usually accomplish outside of work in 7 minutes. You’re able to catch next week’s previews for “Grey’s Anatomy,” eat an entire Tri-tip sandwich at Farmer’s, or request confirmation for “how you know” 10 of your Facebook friends. Right?

You may think this to be an advantage when in reality you are taking advantage of the company you work for. Start your good working habits while still in college. We’ve all heard that the habits you develop in college stay with you long after you graduate, so to avoid problems later in life, you had better start off on the right foot now. Bottom line: Take your terrifically productive habits used during your time off and apply them to work.

Still not convinced? Here’s another reason that will eliminate your temptations to cheat the system. A friend who recently graduated college and has a full-time career was just fired from his job. According to his boss, the reason was his lack of “face time.” This means coming in on time and sticking around the office to be available to any potential client calls and employee questions. This includes hanging around even if you have nothing left to do! In the business world, it is an unspoken rule that you do not leave before the boss does. Well, I guess you could say he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

The lesson to be learned here is if you happen to be your productive-self and finish responsibilities early, don’t start the process of selling your extra Oakland A’s ticket on ebay or start checking prices for March flights to Cabo. Rather, spend those 7 minutes preparing yourself for the next day’s responsibilities!

Aliza Elbert and Jennette Ballas are both marketing concentrations with a knack for changing the world-one ethical dilemma at a time. This article is written on behalf of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) with a goal of teaching others about business ethics.

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