Money & Business

Report: Ethics Issues Create Risks for Younger Workers

By Daniel Ford / Jun 25, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

A  generational study by the Ethics Resource Center shows that younger workers are likely to feel pressure to compromise ethical standards and experience retaliation for reporting misconduct.

Younger employees are more likely to face ethics issues at work, according to a report from the Ethics Resource Center.

The ERC report, “Generational Differences in Workplace Ethics,” looked at differences between millennials, Generation Xers, baby boomers, and  older traditionalists in the workplace with an eye toward identifying “the most effective ways company leaders can encourage and support the highest standards of integrity from each generation.”

The research found that the younger the worker, “the more likely they are to feel pressure [to compromise standards], observe misconduct, and experience retaliation for reporting.”

Implementing an effective ethics and compliance program and building a strong ethics culture will continue to make a difference for all employees.

Millennials “appear to observe fewer boundaries,” which makes them “more likely to engage in or tolerate behavior that many consider unacceptable.” But they also are more likely to report misconduct and take advantage of their company’s ethics and compliance procedures, the report states.

“It is important for companies to realize that each generation perceives ethics and culture differently from the others,”  ERC President Patricia J. Harned said in a statement.  “However, business leaders should know they do not have to completely redesign their ethics and compliance programs. Implementing an effective ethics and compliance program and building a strong ethics culture will continue to make a difference for all employees.”

Other highlights of the report:

  • The millennials surveyed were significantly more likely to experience retaliation than those in Generation X (29 percent compared with 21 percent) or baby boomers (18 percent).
  • Millennials are more likely to respond to the elements of ethics and compliance programs that include social interaction and support, such as help lines, mechanisms for seeking advice, and training.
  • Older workers tend to consult company resources for work-related issues, while younger workers tend to consult their families and friends.
  • The percentage of engaged employees increases with a strong ethics culture.
  • Millennials are more likely to leave a company after two years. They are also more likely to “exhibit disloyal behavior,” such as posting negative comments about the company or their co-workers online, or reporting misconduct in an effort to collect a reward.

Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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