Unethical workers get away with bad behaviour

by |

Companies talk up their values, but how consistent is HR in backing it up with action? It seems most employees think their less-than-ethical colleagues are getting away with bad behaviour.

A study from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 40% of employees believe individuals whose behaviour consistently goes against the values of the organisations they work for are either left unpunished or are rewarded or promoted.

Just one third (33%) of those surveyed said that colleagues were reprimanded for consistent rule breaking, indicating that employers are not doing enough to ensure that their business values are being upheld.

There is good news coupled with the bad though – organisations which keep fairness and transparency front and centre can enjoy the returns of a more motivated and committed workforce. Just over half (52%) of the 2,000 employees surveyed agreed that their organisation’s values positively influence behaviour at work.

However, in companies where undue pressure is put on achieving profits, adherence to those values is compromised. In fact, the top reason cited by employees who don't believe values have an impact was that profit was placed ahead of organisational values. The most cited reason by those in the public sector is that there is one rule for senior managers and one rule for everyone else, highlighting the importance of consistency and accountability at all levels within the organisation.

In the wake of the banking crisis and other corporate scandals, organisational values should be at the forefront of business leaders' minds now more than ever, CIPD CEO Peter Cheese said. “At the heart of an organisation's culture has to be a set of agreed values that resonate with employees at all levels from the board to the front line in order to provide a template for the behaviours and standards expected.”

Communication is the key to making this happen, and less than a third of workers (29%) say they have a good understanding of their organisation’s values, research advisor Claire McCartney said. “Involving employees in the values creation process will certainly help to make them more meaningful and integrating values into people management processes and the way people do their jobs will also help to ensure values matter.”

HRD Forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions