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Study: When good employees go bad

Study: When good employees go bad

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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PROVO -- Two Brigham Young University studies on problems in the workplace found employees who often take unethical actions that harm the company are often the employees with the biggest drive to make the company successful.

BYU assistant professor of organizational behavior in the Marriott School of Management John Bingham said it's almost counter intuitive to think employees with the most drive could cause the most problems.

However he said they've found evidence that's the case because those employees feel they owe the company something. They feel they can overlook their own personal moral code of conduct to do what they feel is best for the business.

"In the mind of the employee, ‘I'm just doing my job and I'm doing it well,'" said Bingham. "They are the ones who may actually do unethical things and not question necessarily their own moral integrity, but rather do it with the interest to benefit the organization because this is what they believe the organization expects or wants them to do."

Bingham said examples of the unethical behavior could include lying to customers, selling expired or unsafe products, or shredding documents that could contain harmful information about a company.

Bingham said this doesn't mean employers should not strive to have motivated workers. Instead he suggests guarding against potential problems by rewarding employees for how they accomplished their work, not just the end result of their work. He also says companies need to emphasize their code of ethics.

For more information on the study, click here.


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Randall Jeppesen


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