HomeEmployee ExperienceEngagementEmployee EngagementPressures that have caused 12% of employees to act unethically at work

Pressures that have caused 12% of employees to act unethically at work

  • 4 Min Read

Much of the corporate world trends are driven by a desire for results, these pressures have taken it’s toll on UK workers, with research it has been revealed that employees have acted unethically to achieve their goals.

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Reboot Digital Agency performed a survey to surprisingly discover that out of the participants, 12% had broken their organisation’s standards of ethical behaviour. Out of this 12%, Reboot Digital delved into this shocking statistic to identify the main reasons that had forced workers to decide to stray away from their company’s code on ethics.

After more analysis and research, they found that a company having a lack of resources is the biggest reason, that influenced this 12% to act unethically within their organisation at 35%. Time pressures also played a huge part in this, and this was a significant factor when proceeding with these unethical actions, at 34%. These time-pressures mostly related to deadlines, tasks, projects, and presentations being placed on them, and them not being able to complete these efficiently without breaking these codes.

12% of this group felt more prompted to make these unethical actions simply due to financial and budgeting pressures from their company. And the final reason for these unethical actions coming in at 11%, were these staff members seeing the culture in the company as being already unethical, feeling more inclined to proceed with these actions, as they may have felt slightly encouraged if the company is following a similar path.

Shai Aharony, Managing Director of Reboot Digital Agency commented on these findings, saying “Ethics provide businesses with guiding values and principles by which they can operate in a moral and accountable manner. Ideally, organisations and their employees should be abiding by them in everything they do. But in the backdrop of a challenging and uncertain economic climate, this has become less and less the case.”

Another insight revealed that although their line manager was aware that these employees made these unethical actions. It was revealed that 33% of them rewarded employees for this, as although they did act unethically, they did this in an attempt to achieve the right results.

Another statistic that backs up this claim was from a well-known accountancy firm ‘Ernst & Young’, whose own research showed that 42% of UK employees feel their senior management would act in an unethical manner to help a business survive.

Shai Aharony went on to discuss the pressures behind staff acting unethically, and offered up a solution for this, going on to say “ Colossal economic events such as Brexit are only adding to workers existing pressures and creating new ones. This, in turn, is causing workers to take unethical shortcuts in their duties and obligations. These occurrences are unfortunate, but I believe senior management have a significant role to play in controlling the expectations they create for their employees. Depending on their role, making sure objectives for each employee are realistic. That way, employees won’t feel the pressure nor urge to take any unethical actions and decisions to achieve them”

With the corporate world following a trend of aiming to achieve instantaneous results, which can produce healthy financial results. This can, unfortunately, lead to staff finding other ways to achieve these goals whether ethical or not and if these results and goals are being achieved by acting in unethical ways, then this aspect of corporate businesses tend to take the back seat.

Other insights from this report included that 28% admitted to breaking their organisation’s values on ethical behaviour because they were following their boss’s orders. Similarly, 26% broke moral grounds as they were asked to take shortcuts from other individuals (e.g. fellow colleagues).

And a more positive piece of insight revealed that 64% of UK workers believed that their line manager sets a good example of ethical business behaviour. Furthermore, 54% think their line manager explains the importance of honesty and ethics in the work they do.

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