Gen Z more likely to engage in unethical conduct in workplace - Research

22 per cent of Gen Z respondents engaged in unethical conduct in the past year in the workplace, compared with just nine per cent of Boomers.

19 May 2024 11:00am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - File photo
Photo for illustration purpose only. - File photo

KUALA LUMPUR - A new report by LRN Corporation revealed significant challenges in workplace ethics, with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of employees worldwide agreed that 'it is OK to break the rules if needed to get the job done' and 14 per cent admitted to had actually 'engaged in behaviour that violated their company’s Code of Conduct or standards' in the past year.

The report also found that 22 per cent of Gen Z respondents engaged in unethical conduct in the past year in the workplace, compared with just nine per cent of Boomers.

A leader in ethics and compliance (E&C) solutions, LRN Corporation in a statement said the results suggested an inverse trend between this mindset and age, with Gen Z 2.5 times more likely to agree with breaking the rules than Boomers.

The research found that companies with strong ethical cultures have lower rates of observed misconduct and report their observation at a rate 1.5 times higher than those in companies with weak cultures (93 per cent compared to 63 per cent).

Globally, one-third (33 per cent) of respondents had observed misconduct or unethical behaviour in the past year, with harassment, discrimination, conflicts of interest, and employee health and safety violations cited most frequently.

Of those, one-fifth (21 per cent) did not report their observation because they did not think their company would do anything about their concern (36 per cent) or handle it effectively (30 per cent), or because they feared retaliation (36 per cent). These trends overwhelmingly signal a lack of trust in the system of procedural justice within the organisation.

The research also probed employees’ perceptions of artificial intelligence (AI) and its place in work and on careers, while a slight majority believe AI will have a positive impact, employees who view their companies as adaptive and resilient are nearly two times more receptive to the potential benefits of AI in their workplace and career opportunities.

The report also uncovered several other notable findings include a large majority (79 per cent) of employees who observed misconduct reported their observation, with most raising their concern to either their direct manager or another manager in the company (77 per cent combined).

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In addition, the research highlighted that psychological safety was the greatest predictor of whether employees would report misconduct they had observed; and hybrid employees have more positive perceptions of their company’s ethical culture than their fully in-office peers.

The findings are included in the company’s latest Benchmark of Ethical Culture Report, which is based on a comprehensive survey of more than 8,500 employees at major organisations and corporations in 15 different countries, and from 13 different industries. - BERNAMA