Originally presented on June 24, 2013
Younger workers are more susceptible to experiencing ethical dilemmas on the job, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) said today in “Generational Differences in Workplace Ethics,” a supplemental research report to their 2011 National Business Ethics Survey®. The new report takes an in-depth look at how employees of different generational cohorts are shaping today’s workplace.
The report delves into trends among four specific generational groups- Millenials, Generation X (Gen X’ers), Boomers, and Traditionalists. Each generation, shaped by significant world events and cultural trends, exhibits distinct differences when it comes to ethics. According to the study, certain age groups are more “at risk” than others when it comes to the four key measures of ethical performance- pressure to compromise standards, misconduct, reporting, and retaliation. For instance, the report reveals that the younger the worker, the more likely they are to feel pressure, observe misconduct, and experience retaliation for reporting.
Major findings from the survey include:
- Almost half of Millenials (49 percent) observed workplace misconduct
- The youngest workers (29 percent) were significantly more likely to experience retaliation than Gen X’ers (21 percent) and Baby Boomers (18 percent)
- After witnessing misconduct, over half of employees in every age group reported it to their supervisor first
“It is important for companies to realize that each generation perceives ethics and culture differently from the others,” said ERC’s President, Dr. Patricia J. Harned. “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. The key is communicating their commitment to ethics differently for different generations.”
This study is the most recent in a series of surveys conducted by the ERC. The ERC has fielded a biennial National Business Ethics Survey (NBES®) since 1994, providing business leaders a snapshot of workplace ethics trends. Throughout the years the NBES has been expanded into a series, making it possible to focus on specific areas of interest.
“Generational Differences” allows ERC to address challenges facing a workforce spanning multiple generations, and offers suggestions for business leaders on how to reach each generation. This newest report was made possible in part by a generous contribution from Raytheon Company.
Download the entire supplemental report here.